Many people get tattoos to express personal passions, memorialize moments in time or honor lost loved ones, but an increasing number of people are getting inked up in a way that might actually save their lives someday in the form of medical alert tattoos.
What is a medical alert tattoo?
A medical alert tattoo is essentially a functional form of a tattoo. Instead of being simply beautiful to look at or expressing something personal about an individual, it provides genuine medical information that doctors and other medical professionals can use to find out more about your medical situation in emergency situations.
Take Chris Miller, a 42 year old newspaper reporter from Canada. For his first tattoo he got one to let paramedics or doctors know that he has Type 1 Diabetes. He did this by tattooing his wrist with, “T1 DIABETES”.
“I’ve always worn medical alert bracelets and, over the years, they break from time to time,” says Miller, who was diagnosed at age 3. “I just thought a tattoo made sense because it’s permanent.” Plus, he adds, the process wasn’t so foreign. “I’m sort of used to needles,” he says.
“I wanted to be clear that it’s not just a design,” says Chris Miller, whose friend found the pattern online.
Examples of medical tattoos
Here are a few examples of a medical tattoo to help you understand more about the concept:
Medical alert tattoo for diabetes
Medical alert tattoo for diabetes can alert medical professionals to your condition in situations where you might not be able to inform them.
Medical alert tattoo for allergies
Allergies can trigger anaphylactic shock and unconsciousness, but a tattoo will give doctors the information they need.
Medical alert tattoo for asthma
Those who have trouble breathing due to asthma attacks may potentially receive life-saving treatment thanks to the help of their tattoos.
Medical alert tattoo for epilepsy
Epilepsy can trigger fits and seizures, but with a tattoo, people around you will know what to do.
Medical alert tattoo for heart problems
People with heart problems or special heart implants like a pacemaker may choose to have a medical alert tattoo as well.
What to know before getting a medical alert tattoo?
Before you get a medical alert tattoo, here are some questions about tattooing and a few things to think about:
- Talk to your doctor – Speaking with your doctor can help you find out more about the benefits of these tattoos and the best places to get them.
- The right location – It helps to have a medical alert tattoo in a location that is highly visible and on show.
- A clear design – You can have medical tattoos in all kinds of designs and add some of your personality, but the information still needs to be clear and easy to understand.
The benefits of medical alert tattoos
There are many benefits to getting medical alert tattoos, such as:
- Life-Saving – Of course, the number one benefit of a medical tattoo is the fact that it could save your life. If you have medical alert tattoo diabetes, for instance, first responders will know to check your blood sugar levels if you’re suffering slurred speech, unconsciousness, etc.
- Functional – Most tattoos are meaningful and beautiful, but don’t have much of an actual purpose outside of their sentimental or emotional value. A medical alert tattoo, however, has a genuine purpose, allowing it to be both functional and attractive all at once.
- Convenient – For medical professionals, it can be so convenient to get a patient with a medical alert tattoo, as this quickly and easily allows them to diagnose long-term health conditions and take the right action for your safety.
What is the medical alert symbol?
Medical alert tattoos can come in a range of styles and designs, and in order to help first responders and medical professionals quickly and easily figure out a person’s medical condition, many of these tattoos may incorporate a universal medical alert symbol. There are two main symbols, and both of them involve a snake.
Staff of Asclepius
The Staff or Rod of Asclepius is named after the Greek God Asclepius, famed for his healing powers, and takes the form of a snake curled around a staff.
The Caduceus Symbol, meanwhile, features two snakes curling around alternate sides of staff with wings at the top.
You may choose to have one of these symbols as part of your medical alert tattoo design, or you could simply wear a bracelet or tag with the symbol.