Smartphone Apps for Diabetes: Do They Really Work?
You can use them to count carbs, log blood sugar, but users say they're no substitute for patient knowledge and a doctor's care
But, Wishnick said, nothing beats writing down the numbers.
"If you don't write it, you're not feeling it," she said. But apps that record your blood sugar numbers could be helpful for identifying trends, such as high blood sugar levels after eating certain foods or at particular times during the day, she said.
One area in which many people with diabetes need help is carbohydrate counting. People with type 2 diabetes who aren't using insulin often need to limit the number of carbs they consume in a meal.
Moreover, people with type 1 diabetes and those with type 2 who need insulin must always know how many carbs are in foods so they can give themselves the right amount of insulin, a hormone that helps process carbs.
With her daughter, O'Flaherty said, "Even before she was released from her hospital stay when she was diagnosed as a type 1 diabetic, I had Calorie King and Diabetes 360 installed on my smartphone."
Other nutrition apps include Fooducate, Restaurant Nutrition and GoMeals.
With everything people with diabetes have to keep track of, it can be easy to forget a blood sugar check or miss a dose of medication. Apps such as Glucose Buddy and Dbees can help remind you to take care of these tasks. You set the alerts and reminders you want to receive, and your phone will let you know when it's time for a certain task.
Apps can also help parents manage diabetes in their children. ShugaTrak, for example, sends a text to a parent or caregiver when a child's blood sugar is checked during the school day. Apps can also help parents keep track of injection or pump sites, which need to be rotated regularly.
O'Flaherty said she uses a to-do app to keep track of sites, because she hasn't yet found a diabetes-specific app for this purpose.
"As a population that is increasingly tied to our smartphones, there are many ways a good app could be helpful in managing the overall health of diabetics better," she said. "Diabetics have enough to handle every day and to think about day in and day out. It would be nice to have a comprehensive app to help make this burden a little lighter."