Written by Katelyn Schwanke (last updated September 5, 2008)
If you or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with diabetes, your doctor may suggest that you purchase a variety of supplies to help you live with the condition. Beyond prescription supplies like insulin, insulin pumps, and insulin shots there are a variety of over-the-counter supplies that will be necessary in controlling your blood sugar appropriately.
If you take a quick trip to your local Wal-Mart or Target you will generally find an entire aisle dedicated to diabetes supplies. There are a few necessities that you should purchase. The most important supplies include a glucometer, test strips, lancets, alcohol swabs, band aids, glucose tablets and potentially pressure socks. Wound-care materials, such as gauze, may also be necessary due to some diabetics' inability to heal quickly.
Glucometers measure the amount of glucose (sugar) found in your blood stream. Glucometers generally measure blood sugar in terms of milligrams. As your doctor will advise you, the target range is between 80 and 110 milligrams of blood sugar. Glucometers are helpful because they allow you, if your doctor has deemed appropriate, to control your diabetes by simply monitoring blood sugar with appropriate dietary changes and meal plans. Glucometers have proven helpful in decreasing a number of long-term side effects associated with hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and hyperglycemia (high blood sugar); some of the side effects avoided include loss of sight, kidney failure, stroke, and infection.
Glucometers require test strips that you place your blood on to be read. Test strips can be extremely expensive without health insurance so it is best to purchase, if possible, under Medicaid, Medicare, or another health insurance company. Before you can test your blood with the strips and glucometer you need to purchase alcohol swabs and lancets. Alcohol swabs clear the area to be punctured from any debris that will infect your wound and make sure that nothing contaminates the reading on your glucometer. After swabbing your finger or chosen area, you will use a lancet to gather your blood sample. You may want to purchase band aids if your chosen site for drawing blood tends to bleed a lot.
Beyond blood testing equipment you may choose to purchase pressure socks to prevent blood clotting in your legs. Pressure socks or stockings can also be found in the diabetes supply aisle. The last thing you may want to purchase is glucose tablets. Glucose tablets come in a variety of flavors and can be extremely helpful if you tend to be hypoglycemic by helping your glucose levels rise quickly.
Shop around and find the very best prices, you may find it helpful to talk to your pharmacist about brands and materials.
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