DR. PONDER: Diabetes care includes emergency preparation - Odessa American: Dr. Ponder On Diabetes

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DR. PONDER: Diabetes care includes emergency preparation

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Posted: Sunday, July 24, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 12:06 pm, Wed Aug 29, 2012.

Part of managing diabetes well means being prepared for emergencies. While sudden catastrophic events can befall any of us in our everyday lives, at least we have time to prepare for natural disasters like hurricanes. This guide will help you be better prepared to manage your diabetes through a natural disaster or even an act of terrorism.

All diabetics need certain supplies and equipment to best manage their disease. But a diabetic’s most valuable asset is their personal knowledge of their disease and how to best manage it in unusual situations. Supplies and equipment are of little use without the knowledge of how and when to use them properly, plus a clear understanding of their purpose. Make a list of your essential diabetes supplies and keep it in a safe place, or prepare a small insulated cooler with essential diabetes supplies plus a list of last-minute items to include before you travel to a more secure location.

In your kit, make sure you have room for an ice pack to keep insulin from getting too warm. But remember never to freeze insulin; it destroys it. Take your current open bottles of insulin, plus one unopened bottle of each of your insulin preparations. Pack alcohol wipes and at least one week of syringes. It is possible to reuse your own syringe once or twice, as long as you are careful about re-capping and storing the syringe between each use. If you inject insulin from a pen device, take a box of cartridges for each of the insulin preparations you use, plus a supply of disposable needles. Include a full bottle (or two) of blood sugar test strips and a lancing device. Keep extra lancets in a small baggie. Pack a small container for any used sharps. If you check for ketones in the urine or blood when blood sugars are over 300 mg/dl, make sure to include several of these test strips in your kit. Finally, make sure your prescriptions are current. Don’t forget that many large drug store chains will honor refills in their other stores across the country if you have a valid prescription on record at your local pharmacy.

Low blood sugar can result from skipped or delayed meals and snacks. Include carbohydrate containing snacks of proper size and quantity, plus glucose tablets to treat mild low blood sugar. If you have the injectable medication glucagon for treatment of severe low blood sugar, make sure to pack it in your kit, along with instructions for its use.

Extremes in blood sugar are more likely to happen in unpredictable and stressful situations like emergency evacuations. Check blood sugar more often to detect high and low blood sugar trends. You may be dining out more, so consider packing a fast food calorie guide. Make sure to carry a diabetes ID bracelet or wallet card, your health insurance card, plus the phone numbers for your diabetes doctor. Don’t let bad weather be a reason for letting your diabetes spiral out of control.

Dr. Stephen Ponder has had type 1 diabetes since 1966. He has been a pediatric endocrinologist for 24 years. Contact him at swponder@gmail.com, or follow him at twitter.com/dr_steve_ponder.

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