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New High-Tech Tools to Help Control Diabetes

By Susan Bernstein
WebMD Feature

If you have diabetes, you’ll want to know about some new, high-tech gadgets and tools designed 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:

  • Phone, 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 you 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 long. 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 medical director of the Diabetes Institute of the Walter Reed Health Care System.

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.

If you need insulin but not a pump, pre-filled pens may be easier to use than separate vials and needles, Vigersky adds. “Pens are so convenient and easy to use,” he says. And that makes people more likely to take their medication, which helps keep their blood sugar under better control.

 

Apps and Clips

New phone, tablet, or 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.”

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

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If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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