The key to managing diabetes is controlling your blood sugar or blood glucose. In order to avoid complications and reduce the risk of nerve damage, kidney disease, seizures, and blindness, accurate testing must be given due importance. Accurate test results help you adjust your diet, exercise regimen, and treatment plan. This is why you must take wise steps in buying your diabetes test supplies. If you’re newly diagnosed with diabetes, the following guide will give you an idea as to what to buy, where to buy them, and how to store them.
What’s in a diabetes test kit?
First, you must know what items you need, which will depend on the type of diabetes you have — type 1 or type 2. Here are the supplies that you’ll need:
Glucose meter. This is a small device operated by batteries. Every brand of glucose meter has its own advantages and disadvantages. Some of the features to consider are convenience, accuracy, and quick response. They also differ in price, largely depending on the features you deem important.
Test Strips. These small disposable strips of plastic are key components in blood glucose testing. Each strip has an enzyme that reacts with the glucose in your blood, a chemical that speeds electrons through the circuit for an accurate reading, a solution of chemicals that preserve the enzyme and mediator chemicals, and a circuit that transfers the reaction electrons onto the glucose meter, giving you your reading.
Lancets. These are used in piercing your finger when getting a blood sample. A lot of glucose meters come with lancets, but if you don’t like the one that comes with your glucometer, shop around for one that you’d be most comfortable with.
Urine Test Strips. This is used by those with type 1 diabetes in measuring ketone levels. If you have type 1 diabetes, your body may also begin to burn fat for energy because the cells are not getting a sufficient amount of glucose, causing the body to produce chemicals called ketones. A buildup of ketones has the ability to poison the body and result in coma or even death.
Glucose Tablets. These are chewable sugar tablets used to raise blood sugar quickly in case of hypoglycemia, or when blood sugar drops dangerously low. They come in different flavors and forms such as liquids, gels, and powders.
Emergency Alert Bracelet. This is extremely important for people with diabetes. This bracelet allows for immediate identification to paramedics or bystanders in the event of low blood glucose reaction or sudden confusion or unresponsiveness. Your bracelet must have the word “Diabetes” boldly engraved on one side, while the other side must have other vital information such as “insulin dependent” or “medication controlled.” It can also include an emergency contact number, your physician’s name, or a direction to another place for more information such as a wallet or pocket.
Where to get diabetic test supplies
You can purchase your supplies at your local drug stores or at online pharmacies. As with any purchases, opt to shop for sales to find the best prices and save money. Check your supermarket ads weekly for coupons, as well. It will also cost you less if you choose generic meters and test strips over branded ones. Glucose meters, for one, can vary in price based on features and brand, but you should be able to get one at around $40 to $60. Test strips can cost around $100 a month. Good news is, if you find yourself having a surplus of test strips, you can sell them.
How to store them
Many people keep their test kits in a kitchen or bedroom drawer so that all their supplies are in one place. If you take insulin, your healthcare provider will give you full instructions on how to use and store them effectively. Supplies and medications that are temperature-sensitive such as insulin must be well taken care of. Insulin can last a month at room temperature. Some manufacturers suggest storing insulin in the refrigerator, however, injecting cold insulin can be painful. What you can do is take them out of the refrigerator minutes before your scheduled shot so it has time to warm to room temperature. Also, always make sure to keep extra supplies on hand to reduce the risk of a diabetic emergency.