Sunday, 16 February 2014

Diabetes Detox - Check the date!

Have you ever had rises in your blood sugar levels? Seemingly for no reason and you couldn't put your finger on why? Well what if the reason was that the medication and consumables you've been using for your diabetes are out of date?


Whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes there can be a lot of medication involved, young or old we all know about the monthly process of having to put in a prescription for what we need to manage our diabetes. Collecting the medical items and then adding them to our home stock of essentials. I know having type 1 diabetes that I have numerous items; whether for blood sugar testing and the needles I use to prick my fingers with to the testing strips to measure levels. The insulin that fills my insulin pump to all of the consumables that keep it working. We know it takes some organisation, but did you know that most of these items have a use by date?

Most of us know that insulin has a use by date- a point in time with which it needs to be used so as to be at its most effective. I learnt to my detriment last summer that insulin also likes to be kept at a certain temperature to remain useful. I spent time at the beach during the International Diabetes Federation camp in Italy with my pump on. I wasn't in the sun for more than a couple of hours and my pump was covered by fabric opposed to in direct sunlight. But by the time we made our way home for tea my blood sugars had sky rocketed. I tested for ketones and gave the appropriate insulin corrections to bring my blood sugars back down and did some set changes. However, it turned out that my insulin had been spoiled by the exposure to sunlight and heat. But did you know that your other diabetes medication has a used by date as well?

It may be something you haven't given much thought to before but did you know items such as needles, blood strips and even plastic tubes all have a date that they have to be used by or otherwise disposed of? It's especially important for items such as needles as you wouldn't want the lubricant to dry out or the needle to lose its sharpness as this would result in a much more painful means of injection. And in a similar manner with the tubes used to carry insulin from the pump to your body, if one of those became out of date it might effect how the insulin is administered having an adverse effect on blood sugar readings.

So this weekend I made a point to have a sort out of the cupboard that I keep all of my diabetes supplies in. I checked all of the sell by dates of every box to make sure firstly that it was in date and secondly that the boxes of items that 'went off' first were at the front so as to be used up before those with a longer date. This may sound like quite a boring issue to blog about but I can't stress the importance of ensuring not to be left short on supplies or to find the ones you have left to be faulty or unusable. Too often the headline in the news is that illnesses such as diabetes are costing the NHS too much money. And too often I've heard accusations from medical professionals about tightening control on how much they give out for supplies because of people 'stock piling' medication. This is an opportunity for people with diabetes to look after their diabetes management and also to do away with the possibility of being accused of this.