Managing Diabetes - New Technology Makes It Easier
Your body is capable of doing numerous tasks for you. Most of us don’t realize how it keeps us healthy until something goes wrong. Diabetes is a serious condition that occurs when the body has trouble regulating and utilizing blood glucose, which the body uses as a primary source of fuel. New advancements in technology are making it easier for diabetic patients to control diabetes and help them stay healthy.
Statistical data show that more than 100 million Americans have diabetes or are prediabetic, i.e., a condition in which the blood glucose levels are greater than normal, but not higher enough to consider it “diabetes.” People with diabetes must frequently measure their blood glucose and quickly take the necessary steps to get too low or high. Diabetic patients must also always think about how all the aspects like meals, stress, and physical activity will affect their blood glucose levels.
Types Of Diabetes
The management of diabetes greatly depends on what type of diabetes a person has to keep in check their blood glucose levels. Some of the most prevalent types of diabetes are gestational diabetes, type 1, and type 2 diabetes mellitus.
In Type 1 Diabetes, the body does not make sufficient hormone known as insulin. Insulin is the hormone that signals the body cells to let the glucose in. A fault in the body’s immune system (the body’s defense system against foreign substances and germs) leads to insufficient insulin hormone production. The immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the pancreas cells that produce insulin. Some of the most commonly occurring symptoms among all types include increased urination, thirst, and hunger. The symptoms of type 1 diabetes start early on, probably one week after the disease’s onset.
In Type 2 Diabetes, the pancreas cells have trouble producing enough insulin or using the insulin hormone, so there is a surplus amount of glucose in the blood - leading to diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is one of the most commonly occurring types of diabetes across the globe. Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can occur at any age. Type 1 mostly occurs in children and younger adults, while type 2 is more prevalent in middle-aged and older adults. Gestational diabetes develops during pregnancy and increases the chances of developing type 2 diabetes later in your life. The symptoms of diabetes might vary depending on the type of diabetes a person is suffering. Type 2 diabetes symptoms gradually progress over the years, making them less noticeable during the initial stages.
Blood Glucose Control
Most people with diabetes must check their blood glucose using a blood glucose meter. A glucometer is a portable device that helps measure how much glucose is in the blood. After pricking the fingertip with a skin prick needle, apply the blood drop to the test strip. The glucometer shows how much glucose is present in your blood.
People with type 1 diabetes and some with type 2 manage their blood glucose levels using synthetic insulin injections. The dose of this synthetic insulin injection must be calculated because a miscalculated or missed dose of insulin can lead to serious consequences - sometimes immediately. Both types of diabetes are linked to an increased risk of stroke, kidney diseases, blindness, amputation, and heart diseases.
Moreover, Dr. Guillermo Arreaza-Rubin, who is the head of the NIH Diabetes Technology program, states that “It is a great responsibility to take into account your intake of carbohydrates with each meal, record the impact of physical activity, and measure the amount of insulin you need to inject yourself several times a day with the use of a syringe or an insulin pump.”
Any complication in the management of insulin dose might lead to life-threatening consequences like severe hypoglycemia, in which the blood glucose levels drop to dangerously low levels. Dr. Arreaza-Rubin further says that hypoglycemia is one of the major reasons people having type 1 diabetes visit hospital emergency rooms. The hypoglycemia usually happens in the night and is the main cause of anxiety among people with diabetes and their loved ones.”
Help From Technology
The NIH researchers are conducting clinical trials to test the promising technologies to help people manage their symptoms of diabetes more effectively. For instance, the artificial pancreas is a set of systems that automatically control blood glucose levels and supply insulin or give a combination of insulin and some other important hormones. The quality of devices varies depending on how they are installed and how they perform their function.
Dr. Edward Damiano is a biomedical engineering expert working at Boston University, has a new line of devices and owns a company to develop the technology further says that “Our device is known as “iLet” helps to minimize the time drain and energy for people with type 1 diabetes.” Dr. Edward further states that “The device has the built-in system that helps regulates the blood glucose levels in the body – enabling the patient to live a less troublesome, spontaneous life.”
Earlier studies and clinical trials reveal that the artificial pancreas is safer than the present standard delivery systems of insulin. The researchers focus on the participants’ emotional or physical health, user-friendliness, cost-effectiveness, and safety. Ensuring the participants’ safety is one of the researchers’ foremost priorities.
Why Apple And Google Are Working On Diabetes Tech
According to Dr. Marc Breton, “The blood glucose levels tend to respond in an unpredictable and hazardous way when people with type 1 diabetes start doing physical activities.” Dr. Marc Breton says that using an artificial pancreas system is safe and effective in improving the glycemic index and reducing hypoglycemia in the case of type 1 diabetic adults. The adults who participate in skiing or other winter sports like snowboarding have also shown positive results with such devices. These delivery systems also perform significantly better in challenging environments and provide freedom to diabetic people to fully participate in physical activities of their choice. A device with FDA approval is also available in the market for people who have diabetes.
Some fully automated devices are becoming more and more available for users. Some scientists are also working on making devices for people with gestational diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and other disorders, linking to elevated blood glucose levels. Other researchers are approaching different ideas to switch insulin more efficiently. For instance, smart insulin is more effective when blood glucose levels start elevating. Further innovation will make it easier for diabetic patients to manage their blood glucose levels and learn about these devices’ interaction with medication and a healthy lifestyle.
Diabetes and the Body