Diabetes and Medical Alert ID Bracelets
If you have Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes, you might not be able to tell emergency medical personnel your medical history. You could be in too much pain, disoriented, or unconscious. A medical alert bracelet contains your key health information and is a way for doctors and EMT's to quickly learn information about your health and daily medications. A Return to Sender Medical ID bracelet may help your doctors avoid harm while providing life-saving treatments as well as helping them get in touch with your emergency contact. Stay safe and stylish with a Return to Sender Medical ID Bracelet.
Do I Need a Medical Alert Bracelet If I Have Diabetes?
If you have diabetes, two things can put you in an ambulance: either your blood sugar is dangerously high, or your blood sugar is dangerously low. These conditions often come on rapidly and with little to no warning. The main symptoms of both high and low blood sugar are confusion and altered mental status. This means when you need emergency medical help, you probably won’t be able to tell emergency medical personnel or bystanders you have diabetes. This is why you should wear a medical ID bracelet if you have diabetes: your life could depend on it.
Low Blood Sugar (Hypoglycemia)
The cells of your body need a constant supply of sugar to function. The blood delivers sugar molecules to cells throughout your body, and insulin helps ferry that sugar into your cells. If your blood sugar drops too low, your cells cannot function properly. Indeed, your brain is very sensitive to low blood sugar. Brain cells that do not have enough sugar can people to become irritable, sleepy, unsteady, confused, have slurred speech and lose consciousness.
The medical term for low blood sugar is hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia is a blood sugar reading of less than 70 mg/dL. However, symptoms of hypoglycemia may occur at readings higher than 70, especially in people who have had diabetes for years.
Mild hypoglycemia can be treated with a beverage containing a high amount of sugar, such as fruit juice or non-diet soda. The sugar in these drinks can rapidly raise blood sugar levels and relieve symptoms of hypoglycemia. In severe hypoglycemia, however, blood sugar levels dip so low that patients are too confused or unsteady to drink a high-sugar beverage. They need fast emergency medical help or they could die. Sadly, by the time the ambulance arrives, most people with severe hypoglycemia are unable to explain their condition to emergency medical responders—they are either too disoriented or they have already lost consciousness. If the person had had a medical alert bracelet that told rescuers about their diabetes, EMS could provide a sugar water injection and save the patient’s life.
All people with diabetes are at risk for hypoglycemia; however, diabetics who take certain diabetes medications are at even higher risk. People who take insulin are at the highest risk of severe hypoglycemia.
It is a good idea for everyone with diabetes to have a medical alert bracelet that tells rescuers about their disease. Wearing a medical alert bracelet should be considered mandatory in anyone taking a sulfonylurea or insulin, however.
High Blood Sugar (Hyperglycemia)
Hyperglycemia is the opposite of hypoglycemia. In hyperglycemia, blood sugar levels are too high. Mild hyperglycemia causes relatively mild symptoms: people become thirsty, urinate more often, they may develop a slight headache, and feel tired. However, severe hyperglycemia (a very high blood sugar level) causes severe symptoms: nausea and vomiting, dry mouth, profound weakness, abdominal pain, confusion, coma, and death.
Mild hyperglycemia is usually not a medical emergency. People may take a small dose of extra insulin or call their doctor to adjust their diabetes medication. However, mild hyperglycemia can become a medical emergency. First, most diabetics—even most older people!—get thirsty, urinate frequently, have occasional headaches, and feel a little tired most of the time. Consequently, most people tend to ignore the symptoms of mild hyperglycemia. Unfortunately, if mild hyperglycemia is left untreated, it can progress to severe hyperglycemia. Severe hyperglycemia is a life-threatening medical emergency.
Symptoms of severe hyperglycemia include profound weakness, confusion, and altered levels of consciousness. Without a medical alert bracelet, emergency personnel may have to waste precious minutes diagnosing that the patient is about to die from hyperglycemia. Untreated hyperglycemia causes coma and death.
All people with diabetes are at risk for developing hyperglycemia, but the risk is particularly high in people who skip their medications, do not follow dietary guidelines, or who have a condition called “brittle diabetes.” Anyone with diabetes should strongly consider getting a medical alert bracelet; however, a medical alert bracelet should be considered essential in anyone who has brittle diabetes, often "cheats" on his or her diabetic diet, skips medications, or has poorly controlled diabetes.