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Technology Makes Diabetes Care Easier

Technology Makes Diabetes Care Easier

Technology Makes Diabetes Care Easier

Managing diabetes can feel like a fulltime job when you add together food preparation, activity tracking, and blood sugar monitoring. Over the last twenty years, the technology surge benefitted diabetes management in major ways. We’ve transitioned from manual monitoring of blood glucose levels and calculation of insulin to devices that do the work for us.  We’re glad to see technology remove some of the burden from our patients. If you aren’t familiar with the available technology take a look at these options.

Continuous Glucose Monitoring

For decades, diabetes patients endured multiple finger pricks every day to monitor their blood glucose levels. Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) devices now monitor a patient’s blood sugar every five minutes. No finger pricks or time out from the patient’s activities required. The CGM sensor is applied to the abdomen just under the skin and must be replaced every 10-14 days depending on the monitor type.

A transmitter attached to the monitor sends updates to a mobile or another device. These devices update the patient when glucose levels begin to rise or fall. This continuous monitoring allows patients to see the realtime effect of specific foods on their blood sugar levels.

Some CGMs require two-finger sticks each day to calibrate the device while others require no calibration.

Insulin Pumps

Insulin pumps automatically deliver insulin throughout the day and at mealtime which allows diabetes patients to reduce the number of needle sticks. The device makes calculating the correct dosage of insulin easier and more accurate. It may also help lower A1c levels. 

Some downsides to insulin pumps include having to monitor your blood sugar more closely, changing out the pump site regularly, and entering information into the pump throughout the day. The device can be helpful for patients who are ready to learn to how to use new technology. Or for patients who aren’t concerned about having a device attached to their bodies. In good news, insulin pumps aren’t permanent. Many patients use them for a while then revert to manual insulin injections. This allows the pump site to rest at times.

Close-Loop Pump and CGM

The ultimate technology for a diabetic patient is a closed-loop CGM and pump combination. This technology works as an artificial pancreas by monitoring glucose levels and delivering insulin to lower blood sugar or glucagon to raise blood sugar based on those numbers. A true closed-loop system hasn’t been completely developed, yet, but several companies are close. Many companies already offer hybrid solutions that monitor blood sugar and deliver insulin. They alert patients to low blood sugar levels but cannot deliver glucagon. 

Smart Pens

Tired of being connected to a pump all the time, but enjoy the benefits of having your glucose levels recorded throughout the day? Smartpens offer an alternative to insulin pumps. The pens connect to smartphones or other devices to store up to a year’s worth of dosing information. They work with refillable cartridges. Each pen has different capabilities based on the company that developed it. Some allow users to set reminders to check blood sugar and administer insulin. They also allow users to send dosing and blood sugar level data to multiple email addresses. 

Whether you’re techno fan or not, we can’t ignore the benefits of technology to managing diabetes and making it easier to keep doing life on your own terms while maintaining your health. Pricing for these devices and availability varies, as does whether or not a device is right for your personal diabetes management plan. As always talk to your provider about all the options available to you. And for an update on emerging technologies and a glimpse into what could be coming in the next year or two, check out this article from Healthline.

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