New-age technological innovations have made various aspects of human life easier. From the power of accessing information at your fingertips to the joy of communicating with your loved ones from the comfort of your home – modern technology has significantly improved the overall quality of natural life.
However, the applications of today’s tech innovations aren’t just restricted to communication and automation. Rapid advancement in medical technology has made it possible to better manage chronic ailments, including diabetes.
From smart insulin pens and automated insulin pumps to painless constant glucose monitoring systems, such as the FreeStyle Libre sensor – new-age diabetes technology is leaving no stone unturned to help patients live longer and healthier lives. This is particularly crucial considering diabetes affects roughly 1 in 10 people in the U.S.
The Perils of Diabetes
Type-1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder that destroys healthy insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Type-2 diabetes, on the other hand, results in the release of sub-standard insulin. In either case, it interferes with the body’s ability to metabolize glucose and results in elevated blood sugar levels.
In the long term, diabetes can cause severe complications, including heart and kidney ailments. It adversely affects almost all important organs of the body, including the eyes, brain, and liver.
In most cases, patients have to continually monitor their blood glucose levels and administer regular doses of insulin. This is cumbersome, time-consuming, as well as painful. On top of that, people with diabetes need to follow strict diets and could be prone to hypoglycemia too.
But if you’re diabetic or know someone who’s battling the disease, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. While medical researchers are yet to find a cure for the ailment, you can use various types of smart tools and applications to prevent the damaging consequences of diabetes.
In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at the most promising tech innovations that are helping people with diabetes live better lives. Let’s get started.
Constant Glucose Monitoring(CGM)
Keeping a close eye on the blood sugar level is crucial for people suffering from diabetes. However, traditional self-monitoring devices are based on needles that need to be pricked into a patient’s finger for every test.
Considering that some people might need to get their blood sugar levels checked multiple times during the day, finger needle sticks can be extremely painful. Also, long-term use can lead to loss of sensitivity in the fingers.
That’s why the development of sensor-based constant glucose monitoring systems has been a blessing for diabetic patients. Unlike needle-based kits, CGM relies on a tiny sensor that’s placed on your arm or stomach.
The sensor continuously monitors your blood sugar every few minutes and wirelessly relays this information to a smartphone, insulin pump, or specialized scanner. The FreeStyle Libre sensor, which was the first needless CGM system, can be worn for as long as 14 days.
While the sensor still has a tiny needle, it eliminates the need for pricking your skin multiple times. New-age CGM systems, such as the Dexcom G6, can even be integrated with automated insulin pumps and pens to control insulin dosage based on the latest blood glucose levels.
You can even set a threshold to trigger an alert whenever the blood sugar level plunges below or above the specified limit. Also, you can invite your friends or family members to track the glucose levels.
Smart Insulin Pens
Insulin injections have come a long way since their scary and bulky avatar. The introduction of painless insulin pens in 1982 was a major breakthrough for self-administering the life-saving medication. It’s only natural that technology has further transformed insulin pens into Bluetooth-enabled smart devices.
That’s right! You can now use a smart insulin pen to connect it to any iOS or Android device and track your dosage and timing of insulin intake. Or you can pair it with a CGM device to check the active glucose level and adjust your next dosage accordingly. It can even relay this data to your physician and help them develop a customized treatment plan for you.
Popular smart insulin pens, such as the In-Pen, even send reminders for your next dosage and warn you when the insulin temperature isn’t optimal. Likewise, the device can alert you if the insulin has expired.
The artificial or bionic pancreas has been one of the most groundbreaking innovations in the field of diabetes technology. Simply put, it’s a hybrid closed-loop system comprising a CGM device and an automated insulin pump.
The idea is to simulate the glucose-regulating function of the pancreas by adjusting insulin and glucagon doses. Beta Bionics has been pioneering the development of the artificial pancreas with its iLet Bionic Pancreas system. While the device has received FDA approval, commercial production is yet to commence.
The Future of Diabetes Technology
As automated insulin pumps and smartpens become mainstream, it’s going to aid self-management of diabetes. However, researchers are now on the quest to develop drugs that’ll aid cell regeneration. This can go a long way to restore the healthy beta cells of the pancreas, thereby facilitating normal insulin production.
Do you think diabetes can become a curable disease with the help of modern technology? Share your views in the comments section below.