It is possible to have a diabetes-related medical situation or emergency, even if you are very cautious, monitor your blood glucose fluctuations well and take your prescription drugs on time.
At such times of medical crisis, a Medical Alert or ID Bracelet on hand comes really handy and could even save your life. It can tell the person next to you or the people caring for you about what could possibly be wrong with you, especially if you are unconscious or unable to talk.
A medical ID bracelet can not only be used as pieces of fashionable jewellery, but they also have information about your health condition and your emergency contact information that is very helpful in case of a medical crisis.
In emergency situations, most responders and doctors look for a medical ID – this simple accessory can help your responders know what to do next since symptoms of common illnesses can be easily misdiagnosed otherwise.
An Alert Bracelet helps the medical responders and caregivers to commence treatment immediately. It prevents any delay in diagnosing the cause of the medical situation (e.g. reason for unconsciousness or seizure).
Although different accessories such as hand chains or bangles, necklaces or key chains can be used for medical ID, most emergency responders check the wrist first. This makes a decision to buy a medical alert ID a difficult one for those who try to assess the need for it, fashion and practicality.
Our Guide to Diabetic Medical Alert Bracelets for Men and Women intended to help you decide if do you need a medical alert or ID bracelet? What to look for when choosing the best option for you? And, alternative options for the medical alert for people with diabetes.
Let’s start by defining the differences between diabetic medical alert and medical ID bracelets.
Medical Alert Bracelets vs. Medical ID Bracelets – What is the Difference?
Medical alert bracelets and medical id bracelets are both used in case of any emergency. The ‘terms’ are usually used interchangeably, but both are not really the same.
Although both have their limitations, like any other jewelry, both come in different styles, designs, materials and colors.
Medical alert bracelets work quite differently from medical ID (engraved) bracelets.
Medical Alert Bracelets
A medical alert bracelet is a wearable medical alert system that comes in the form of a button, which the wearer presses to connect wirelessly to a dispatch center to alert the Center staff (e.g. your local ambulance service) of a possible emergency.
Following an alert, the center staff will send (emergency medical team) EMTs or contact any other person stated by the wearer or the caregiver.
Some of the high-end alerts currently in the market include a fall detector that alerts the center automatically if the wearer falls.
Vial of Life
If the wearer can not talk after pressing the button, the call center staff will send EMTs to the scene automatically. Some companies offer a program “Vial of Life” for people who would like EMTs to be able to access vital information about their medical condition.
With this program, the wearers can keep medical information in a safe place in their home, where the EMTs can access if there is any need for it.
Medical alert bracelets are easy and functional ways to wear a medical alert system. Medical alert bracelets are Showerproof, so it can be worn even while bathing and they are compatible with pacemakers.
They can be worn on the wrist and as a necklace.
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Medical ID Bracelets
While medical ID bracelets are engraved with the person’s medical condition, treatment and history, the medical alert bracelets are more technologically advanced.
Unlike a medical ID bracelet, a medical alert bracelet can alert someone about any emergency in progress by only pressing a button and help EMTs to quickly locate the wearer.
Limitations of Medical ID Bracelets
Medical ID bracelets Just like medical alert bracelets have its limitations.
With a medical alert bracelet, once a responder or EMTs are on the scene, the bracelet tells them of the wearer’s medical condition and history.
Also, the responder can access the full medical condition for those with membership-based bracelets, online.
But, this is not the case even with the best medical alert ID bracelet, because it cannot give the responder any vital medical information if the wearer is unconscious or cannot talk.
Who Should Wear a Medical Alert or ID Bracelet?
People with any specific medical conditions (not only diabetes!) are supposed to wear medical alert or ID bracelet, which will help medical professionals in case of any emergency.
You ought to wear a medical ID bracelet if you have any of the following health conditions.
- Allergic to any food, drug, pet or insect bite or sting.
- Heart problems
- Blood disorders
- Kidney failure
- COPD (or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- Breathing disorders
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Risk of stroke
- Organ transplant
- Hearing, visual or mental impairment
- Sickle cell anemia
- Participating in a clinical trial
- Taking multiple medications
- Any rare disease
When Should You Wear a Diabetes Medical Alert or ID Bracelet?
You should always wear your medical alert or ID 24/7 because an unexpected emergency can occur anytime. Also, pack an extra one if you are traveling.
Should Type 2 Diabetics Wear a Medical Alert or ID Bracelet?
Why People With Diabetes Need Medical Alert or ID Bracelets?
You may reverse pre-diabetes, but there is no cure for latter stages of diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is manageable with correct ‘attitude and discipline’, and most type 2 diabetes patients do feel that they do not need a medical ID especially if they have the type 2 diabetes that is not treated with insulin which is seen as being fairly stable diabetes.
Even with all these, if you a diabetic no matter the type, emergency situations such as hypoglycemic episodes can happen at any time, so you have to be careful and ensure that your blood glucose level is not too high or too low.
Medical ID Bracelets for Type 2 Diabetes
People with type 2 diabetes need to wear a type 2 diabetes medical ID bracelet to alert their responders or paramedics in a case of an emergency that they are diabetic so as to check their blood glucose level to know the right treatment to administer.
And, if you are an insulin-treated diabetic patient, indicate that on your medical ID bracelet because you are more prone to low and high blood sugar.
You should know that when the blood sugar level is too high or too low, as it can result in loss of consciousness.
Your medical bracelets also need to indicate if you are on any medication as some medication can make the blood sugar level to go ‘low’.
Hypoglycemia and Medical Alert Bracelets
Low sugar level can make one feel dizzy, extremely hungry, easily irritated, shaky, angry, and one may experience loss of consciousness or have seizures in severe cases too.
To treat low blood sugar, one must take fast-acting carbohydrate, and in a case of emergency, the person needs glucagon injection.
Tip: Did you know that Rule of 15 does not work all the time? Our article explains why.
Hyperglycemia and Medical Alert Bracelets
When the blood sugar is higher than it should be, it can make one feel very thirsty, nauseous, tired, urinate frequently, vomit and in severe cases, altered consciousness or coma (diabetic ketoacidosis).
When the blood sugar level remains high for a long time, it can result in kidney, nerve and eye damage.
It is safer to wear a medical ID bracelet or necklace engraved with “diabetic” or “type 2 diabetes”, or “type 2 diabetes – insulin-dependent” if you have type 2 diabetes. If you do so, in case your blood glucose level goes high or low during the course of your daily activities, the medical attendants will be given the right treatment immediately.
What Information Should You Include or Engrave On Your Diabetes Medical ID Bracelet?
For a diabetic medical ID bracelet to be efficient, it should have all the relevant medical information engraved on your tag.
The crucial information you should include is below.
Your first and last name
In a case whereby you are taken to the Emergency Department (ED), and you are not with your wallet or purse, the staff there will need your first and last name to be able to identify you and gain access to your medical records.
Your medical condition
Your medical ID should state your medical condition. If you are diabetic, it should say the type of diabetes you have. Is it type 1 or type 2 diabetes? Or, other rare examples such as Diabetes Insipidus?
The medication you are on if any
It should state if you are on any particular drug or not. If you are diabetic and you take insulin or use an insulin pump, it should be included in your medical ID tag.
Any allergies to any particular food or drugs you may have experienced.
An in-case-of-emergency (ICE) phone number.
You need to include the first number(s) to be called if something happens to you.
How to Translate What’s Written in a Medical ID
So, your diabetes medical ID should read something like this.
Diabetes type I
On insulin pump,
The Medical Expert team will read the above ID as below.
Name: Agnes Jones
With a diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes.
The patient uses an insulin pump.
Do not use Penicillin, allergic or contraindicated to Penicillin.
Alert Mom, and if not answered the phone, alert Dad by calling the numbers.
For more information about the patient’s health condition, contact the doctor on the number.
Remember to make it simple, don’t put too much information because it can make the writing on the tag to be too small.
You don’t need to add your address except if you suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s and usually there is no need to include a social security number. But, including your Medicare No can come handy.
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Common Abbreviations Used in a Diabetes ID Bracelets
When engraving a medical bracelet, because of the limited space on the tag, abbreviations are used as alternatives to save space. They are known to all medical practitioners, so you do not need to worry using them.
The standard abbreviations used on diabetes medical ID bracelets are:
AODM – Adult-onset diabetes mellitus
GDM – Gestational diabetes mellitus
IDDM – Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus
NIDDM – Non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus
DKA – Diabetic ketoacidosis
T1D – Type 1 diabetes
T2D – Type 2 diabetes
DM – Diabetes Miletus
DN – Diabetic Neuropathy
DI – Diabetes Insipidus
ON MEDS – on medication.
DM1(2)-INSULIN DEP – the person, has Diabetes Mellitus 1(2) and is insulin-dependent
DM1(2)-INSULIN PUMP – diabetes 1(2) and on insulin pump
Alz – the patient, also has Alzheimer’s disease.
To inform about allergy in a diabetic patient, the following abbreviation can be used.
NKA – no known allergy
ALGY –allergic to. For instance, ‘ALGY Nuts’ means allergic to nuts.
NO –the person should not be given that particular thing either maybe because the person is allergic to it or because it can interact with the person medication. For example, if a bracelet is engraved with “NO Penicillin”, it means penicillin should not be administered to the patient.
Diabetic Medical Alert Bracelets For Women – What to Look For? How to Choose?
The fact that it is a medical alert bracelet does not mean it has to be ugly, boring or draw too many attentions to your medical condition.
Also, for senior women going for a medical bracelet with alert buttons, being a senior doesn’t mean you have to stop caring about our appearance.
Women love beautiful, neat and well-designed jewelry, and this also applies to medical bracelets! Women’s medical alert bracelets should be comfortable, with a delicate design but good quality and stylish to complement their personality, lifestyle and wardrobe.
There are many designs of the medical alert bracelet on sale for women ranging from workout-friendly medical alert bracelet or necklace for women to the ones that compliment your business attire, and informal events. They are made with different materials such as gold, silver, beads, leather, cords, some are stretchy, some are chain and some have a clasp.
We will not forget to mention that some are expensive, while affordable ones are depending on your budget. Most importantly, each of these bracelets is engraved with medical caduceus symbol which are recognized internationally and which first responders are trained to look for.
You can also custom engrave information on your medical condition, medication, allergy and ICE contact with any color of your choice on your medical alert tag.
Senior ladies using the bracelet with buttons can make a choice from the wrist options available that come with smaller buttons although a little bulkier than the typical wristwatches.
Some companies offer a smartwatch option that doesn’t look any way like a medical bracelet. Some also come like small pendant that can be worn around the neck.
Things to Consider When Selecting a Medical Alert Bracelets for Women
These are some of the things you should consider when choosing a medical alert bracelet for women:
Where will you wear it?
Emergency Medical personnel are trained to look around the neck and the wrists, but in wrist first, so do you prefer necklaces or bracelets? It’s your choice!
Are you allergic to metal?
You can go for bracelets with fabric behind the metal to prevent the metal from touching your skin, just in case if you are allergic to any metal.
How much information do you want to engrave on your tag?
If you need several lines of engraving, go for a style, size and cost of the jewellery, which can accommodate that.
What is the cost of the bracelet? Can you afford it?
If you are going for a membership-based engraved bracelet or the one with an alert button, what is overall costs of the alert on a monthly or yearly basis? Are you clear about the price and can you afford it? Those are the questions you should think of.
However, engraved ID bracelet involved only a one-off cost which comes at the purchase. But, just an ID alert is sufficient for your health needs also needs to be considered.
Is it comfortable to wear?
A medical bracelet should not only be beautiful, but you should feel comfortable wearing it. If not, there is a great chance that once you take it off, you may not put it on again. So choose a style and color you are comfortable with and happy to use every day regardless of what you are doing and where you are going.
Your preference and choice of the alert bracelet
If you are using the engraved bracelet, are you going for a wrist bracelet or necklace?
What material will the bracelet be made of and what color will be used to engrave the medical tag?
If you are a senior lady going for a medical bracelet with buttons, Are you going for a wrist button or pendant, or mobile devices with multiple ways to wear it?
Those are the question you should consider.
Is it durable and water-resistant? Does it fit your hobbies and lifestyle?
Is the material for your engraved bracelet durable? Is the button water-resistant? Can you use it in the bathroom or out in the rain, since it is important to wear it at all times? So, a water-resistant button means there is no need to take it off.
Does it involve a contract? Or, no long-term contracts?
It is not advisable to go for products that tie you up in long term contracts because you may want out.
Does the bracelet involve a battery or main power? How long the battery last? Would you need a backup battery?
For seniors using medical bracelet with buttons, it is important to understand if it has a backup battery in case if there is a power outage?
Remember, depending on the complexity of your medical needs, it is important your medical alert bracelet is always on.
Reliability – is it reliable?
Is the medical alert bracelet reliable, and does it work as advertised it to be? If not, don’t be attached, just go for another product that is both reliable and works. The style should also come after reliability.
Excellent customer service
Diabetic Medical Alert Bracelets for Men – What to Look For? How to Choose?
Medical alert bracelet for men should not only be stylish but practical.
Bracelets are less popular among men
It has been noticed that most senior men are less likely to wear a medical alert than senior women. This may be because the medical bracelet as we see on the media has given us the idea that medical alert bracelets are pendants worn around the neck.
And, most men, don’t like the idea of wearing something that looks like a necklace or fashion accessory. So, when you choose a medical bracelet for a man, the design of their medical alert bracelet is important.
Hide the fact it is a medical alert device
Most senior men will prefer a medical alert bracelet that can be worn on the wrist with buttons not looking that much different from watches when they are worn on the wrist.
Some companies have medical bracelets that look like a smartwatch for men, and you can never guess it is a medical alert device.
And many companies also offer alerts bracelets that are sturdy in appearance and functional, which is perfect for men who don’t like wearing something fancy or to draw attention to themselves.
Engraved medical ID bracelets for men
For men going for engraved medical bracelets, there are different designs of male bracelet depending on what you need, you should be able to make a choice from the
- stylish and sleek wrist wear,
- dog tag or neck wear to
- modern bands or
- low-profile wrist bands, or
- rugged stainless-steel chain
that matches your lifestyle and interchangeable tags.
Metal for liking
Just like the female medical bracelets, men medical bracelets are made of different materials like leather, gold, silver, stretchy bands. Your medical tag can be custom engraved with the information you provided and the size that fits you.
Tip: Here’s our Guide to Mobility, Daily Living and Walking Aid Options for Elderly and Disabled.
What to Look For and How to Choose a Medical Alert or ID for Men?
Here are the factors you should consider.
Look for medical alerts that are sturdy and functional.
Neutral or masculine design.
Men will prefer bracelets that are inconspicuous and doesn’t attract undue attention.
For engraved bracelets, do you want several or few lines of engraving?
Always check with the user before ordering. Worth checking with the medical team too.
What is the cost of the bracelet? If you are getting a membership base bracelet or the one with button, you should know what you are paying for, what you are getting for the amount you paid, and no extra hidden cost.
Comfortable to wear.
Go for a bracelet that is comfortable to wear for 24 hours every day.
For a wrist button option.
Most senior men will prefer a wrist button that could pass as a watch at first glance than a pendant.
Durable and water-resistant.
Go for a medical alert bracelet that is durable and comes with a button, which is water-resistant, so that you can comfortably wear it in the shower or out in the rain.
No long term contracts.
Going for products that tie you into long term contracts is not advisable in case if you want to back out. Always, check with your doctor, the importance of such service, depending on the severity of your medical conditions.
You need a product that has a backup battery so that it will still work if there is a power outage.
Membership-based vs. Free Medical Bracelets – Pros and Cons
Membership-based medical alert bracelets
To use a membership-based medical Alert ID bracelet, one has to
- register with the organization, by filling all the medical details,
- choose and pay for your bracelet and
- pay the subscription to their services to obtain a membership identification number.
And, in a case of any emergency, they can be contacted using their toll-free number so as to provide full information about the member’s medical conditions and treatment.
- 24/7 toll-free number is available to contact the organization by medical emergency personnel and obtain full information about the wearer’s medical conditions, history and medications.
- Most of the membership-based bracelet use the QR code or NFC tag, which you can scan to get the wearer’s stored medical alert information.
- You have to pay for a monthly subscription, which is more expensive in the long run. (However, if you have a medical need to use such a service, the money spent well worth it)
Free medical alert bracelets
Free medical bracelets are either obtained for free or you can order with a purchase price them online without membership fee or monthly subscriptions.
Someone’s that come free are mostly engraved with only the medical condition without including the ICE number or indicating if the user is on any medication.
However, you can include all the valuable information on the one you ordered online but still, the information that can be engraved on the bracelet is limited depending on the size of it.
- It is cheap, you don’t have to pay for any monthly subscription.
- The only information available to the medical emergency personnel or the responder is what is engraved on the medical bracelet.
- The ICE and doctor’s number you provided may be unavailable to provide more information to the responder and 911 (or 000 in Australia) may not get to your location on time.
Tip: Always stick with good footwear appropriate for diabetes.
From Where to Get a Free Medical Alert Bracelet for Diabetics in the USA, Australia, UK and Canada
It is customary to have a medical ID in the USA, Australia, UK, Canada and in the most of western world.
There are quite a few ways of obtaining free medical ID jewelry, which can be used in the emergency situation to show that you are diabetic.
Here are key organizations which give-away medical alert jewellery free of charge or for a nominal fee.
Upon demand application, they can send a complimentary diabetes medical necklace to you. You can fill out the form on their website or send them an email at email@example.com or call them at (800) 941-4635.
If you prefer a bracelet, you may receive a complimentary bracelet from the MedicAlert Foundation. They provide free bracelets for children between the ages of 4 and 14 who need a medical ID bracelet.
You can contact them either through their website or call them at (800) 432-5378.
Veterans are qualified to get free medical id bracelets through the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Ø Some hospitals and foundations offer free medical ID bracelets
You can contact your local hospital to find out if they offer their patients free medical bracelets or if they know of any medical foundation that offers medical bracelet in the area for free
Ø Your medical and health insurance
There are some cases, where the insurance may be able to cover the cost of a medical ID bracelet or reimburse you for the cost of the medical ID jewelry.
Alternatives to Diabetic Medical Alert Bracelets
Many individuals who diabetic may refuse to wear the medical bracelet or necklace because the feel it is ugly or that it draws attention to the medical services and public in general.
Some don’t like wearing one because they hate jewelry or because they have to always display it. But, still, it is essential for some people to always have one on.
For those that hate jewelry, you can go for medical bracelet made with bead, cords and wrist bands or choose those made of leather if you hate metal jewelries, for those that always misplace theirs, you can go the ones that a stretch without clasp and fit your wrist so that they don’t fall off easily without you noticing.
Some people carry medical ID cards in their wallet or download the medical ID app on their smartphone, although that is not the first place EMs will look at but is better than not carrying any medical ID and there is a chance that you may lose your phone or wallet too.
Some people have resorted to drawing medical alert tattoos on their body although health professionals caution people with diabetes about the medical issues related to getting a tattoo, and most times, most emergency medical teams don’t look for tattoos either.
Not only for people with diabetes but If you have a simpler medical condition such as food or drug allergy, then it is advisable to get a medical id bracelet. It is also advisable to get a medical alert bracelet for independent seniors or those living alone. This is because emergencies can happen anywhere and at any time in and outside your house. That is why the medical alert bracelet and/or medical ID bracelet very important.
The medical alert bracelet provides fast access to assistance with just the touch of a wearable button while communicating important information to first-responders if there is an emergency.
Modern-day Medical ID designs are classic and contemporary and made with high-quality metals, so you don’t have to reject a medical bracelet just because you think they are ugly or they draw unwanted attention to your medical condition.