5 Things Diabetes Technology Can Do for You
Editor’s Note: This content was originally published by EndocrineWeb, and is partially republished with permission.
Technology can be daunting, whether it’s the controls on your smartphone, a front door lock with a passcode instead of a key, or navigating streaming networks to play your favorite TV show.
When it comes to managing diabetes, however, many of the advances in technology have actually made life simpler and safer.
If you’re over 65 and living with diabetes, or you care for a loved one who is, here are a few reasons why you might want to give some of today’s diabetes technology a chance…even if you’re otherwise tech-averse.
1. Your fingertips will thank you.
If your first response to this is, “Finger pricks don’t hurt that much,” then I urge you to keep reading!
While all of us with diabetes get used to pricking our fingers several times a day, the relief that comes with a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) can’t be fully appreciated until you’ve worn it for a few days. You’ll quickly realize just how much your fingertips have endured…and how accustomed your brain has gotten to the constant pain.
Yes, a CGM still requires the insertion of the sensor, and this process includes a brief needle poke when it’s placed. But today’s sensors can be worn for up to 14 days! Today’s CGMs are so small, you’ll truly forget you even have it on your body. Comfortable and discreet, it’s easy to put on and easy to keep on.
Some examples of today’s CGM options are the Libre 14-Day, Libre 2 and Dexcom. The latter two have optional alarms to alert you if you are going low.
Regardless of how tough you are or how much the pain of a prick doesn’t phase you anymore, in my experience you’ll realize within just a few days of wearing a CGM that life is better when your fingertips aren’t your primary source of blood sugar information.
2. You’ll be safer and know more about your blood sugar levels.
Checking your blood sugar four times a day with a blood glucose meter has been the gold standard for a few decades now, but that changed with CGM technology. Your blood sugar is constantly on the move, even when you’re sleeping or not eating, so checking four times a day really doesn’t tell you that much about your blood sugar levels.
A CGM can offer you a new way of reviewing your blood sugars: time-in-range.
Time-in-range, or TIR, is the percentage of the day your blood sugars are within your goal range, with a standard range of 80 to 170 mg/dL. The TIR goal for adults with type 1 and type 2 diabetes is 70 percent or higher. For older adults, who may have a higher risk of experiencing dangerously low blood sugars, the goal is 50 percent.
CGMs can help you improve your TIR (which then improves your A1c) because you can see where your blood sugar is at any moment throughout the day or night! Using a CGM means you can see just how high your blood sugar rises after breakfast vs. lunch vs. dinner. You can see the difference between a breakfast of eggs and toast vs. eggs and oatmeal.
CGMs also hugely improve your overall safety…and the safety of those around you. While you’re sleeping, a CGM can be programmed to alert you if your blood sugar drops below or rises above certain levels.
Before you drive your car, you can make sure your blood sugar is stable and safe enough to be on the road. When you’re exercising, you can keep an eye on rapid changes in your blood sugar—especially if you recently took insulin for a meal.
CGMs are the new gold standard for helping you achieve your diabetes goals as safely as possible.
3. You can take insulin more discreetly and easily.
Sure, insulin pumps can be complicated. But there are newer needle-free options that truly make taking insulin very simple.
Insulin patches (brands include CeQur Simplicity and V-Go) can deliver your rapid-acting insulin, such as Novolog or Humalog, for meals and correction doses. Neither requires any additional fancy device or programming to deliver insulin. Instead, you simply press the small button(s) on the side of the patch to deliver two units of insulin at a time. If you need eight units for dinner, you simply press the button four times.
Easy to insert at home and very discreet, insulin patches can be worn for up to three days until they need to be replaced with a new patch. If you sometimes forget to take injections at mealtime, or you’re reluctant to do so in public places, an insulin patch makes daily insulin doses harder to forget and easier to administer.
There’s also now inhaled insulin (Afrezza), which can also be used for meals and correction doses. The technology itself is just a cartridge of powdered insulin and a plastic mechanical inhaler (zero electronic bells or whistles). The dosing is quite a bit different than dosing injected insulin, so there is a bit of a learning curve. On the other hand, it’s really fast! It is actually the fastest-acting insulin on the market, active in your bloodstream within two minutes of inhaling and truly affecting your blood sugar within 15 minutes.
While you may be used to taking multiple daily injections, today’s insulin options could offer you a break from being a human pincushion and help you reach your blood sugar goals, too.