Alternatives to Medical ID Jewelry: Diabetes Questions & Answers

Q: I have had Type 1 diabetes since 1972. For years, my endocrinologist has recommended I get a Medic-Alert bracelet. I have tried, but jewelry in general tends to agitate me. As an alternative, I thought about getting a tattoo on my wrist where a bracelet would be. But my doctor said paramedics “wouldn’t be looking for a tattoo.” So I am unidentified as a diabetic. Are there any other options?

A: It’s good that you’re looking for solutions. Medical identification now is more important than ever, not only for health reasons (having something that can speak for you if you can’t speak for yourself) but also for legal reasons (there have been a number of cases in which people were arrested and charged with being “under the influence” when they actually were hypoglycemic).

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A medical ID card, displayed prominently above your usual ID in your wallet or purse, is a good idea for just about everyone. Make sure it is easily noticeable and includes pertinent information about your health (type of diabetes, medications, allergies, primary doctor’s information, emergency contact).

Medical IDs have come a long way in 25 years. The MedicAlert Foundation continues to maintain a database of health information for its members, linked to the ID number on the emblem. The styles have improved and the variety of designs is almost endless. Multiple companies have developed medical IDs that have leather bands (rather than chain links), connectors for attaching the emblem to shoes, backpacks, purses, or handbags, as well as some with a true “bling-like” appearance for those who like jewelry.

Whether your tastes are casual or extravagant, the important thing is that you have some form of medical identification with you at all times. Nobody plans to have a serious low blood sugar incident or be involved in an accident, but by planning ahead, you can receive prompt and proper treatment.

Have a question about diabetes? Send it to Gary Scheiner MS, CDE, at [email protected].

Want to learn more about medical alert jewelry? Read “Medical Alert Jewelry for Diabetes.”