New High-Tech Tools to Help Control Diabetes
If you have diabetes, you'll want to know about some new, high-tech gadgets and tools made to help you keep track of what you eat, your blood sugar levels, how much you exercise, and how you feel each day. Some of these include:
- Smartphone, tablet, or computer apps where you log your blood sugar or foods you eat
- Devices that test your blood sugar every few minutes
- Smart pumps that give insulin as your body needs it
- Texts, calls, or emails that remind you to test or take your medicine
Track Blood Sugar Patterns
Keeping track of patterns in your blood sugar levels can help you and your doctor better manage your diabetes.
To find out more, your doctor might use a machine called a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) that can test your blood sugar every 5 minutes all day. It tests through tiny fibers on a patch stuck on your skin. Results are sent wirelessly to a small monitor that you can hold or clip on your belt. Some CGM devices even send your results to your doctor's office through a wireless signal. This can help you and your doctor spot spikes after you eat certain foods, work out, or while you sleep, says Robert Vigersky, MD. He is the medical director of the Diabetes Institute of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
This gadget doesn't take the place of old-school testing, though. The device's maker says you need at least one finger-stick every 12 hours to set the device, and suggests regular testing three to four times a day to make sure the numbers match up.
New, smart insulin pumps that can sync with a CGM are great for people with type 1 diabetes, Vigersky says. "If your sugar goes too low, it will stop an insulin infusion for 2 hours." Smart pumps can help you avoid dangerous dips in your blood sugar.
Apps and Clips
New smartphone, tablet, and computer apps can be good if you don't like writing things down in a journal, says Marisa Moore, a registered dietitian who works with type 2 diabetes patients in Atlanta.
Apps can help you track:
- Calories, carbs, and other nutrition in your diet
- Daily exercise and calories burned
- Stress levels
- Blood sugar test results
"Keeping a food diary can really help you manage your diabetes. With a phone app, you have it with you all the time, which makes it easier to keep up with," she says. "People get tired of checking their blood sugar, too. So it's helpful to have some way to track it that is easily uploaded."
Apps can sync with your doctor's office so you can talk about your levels at your appointment, she adds.
New fitness gadgets that can be clipped onto your belt or worn around your wrist measure physical activity, and they upload your heart rate or steps to social media sites like Facebook. "This can keep you motivated if you have an exercise or weight loss goal," Moore says.
Telemedicine is another tool to help you stay healthy, Vigersky says. Your doctor can send you a text, email, or call that reminds you to test your blood sugar, take your medicine, or check for cuts on your feet, for example.
"These are things we normally tell you, but every few months at your appointment," he says. "This is a new approach to help educate you and keep you on track."