Living with diabetes comes with many challenges. At the top of the list is monitoring glucose levels to avoid a health crisis. Monitoring can be inconvenient and expensive, but thanks to advances in technology, these issues are being addressed like never before.
Diabetes relates to the body’s ability to produce and process the hormone insulin. Without it, cells cannot absorb sugar, or glucose, which we need for energy.
Diabetics are typically diagnosed with one of two types of the disease: Type 1 or Type 2. Type 1 is when the body produces no insulin. The immune system destroys the cells that release it. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body is not producing enough insulin, or the levels produced are not sufficient to help the body generate energy.
In either case, the person diagnosed must make lifestyle changes to ensure glucose levels are kept in check. According to the American Diabetes Association, individuals with type 1 and type 2 diabetes should work out at least 2 hours/wk spread over 3 days/wk with no more than 2 consecutive days without exercise. The ADA also recommends nutritional counselling to address eating patterns, including lowering carbohydrates, fat intake and adding fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy to your diet. Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all program, and it’s important to consult your doctor to determine the dietary, exercise and behavioural changes that are best for you.
By The Numbers
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 29.1 million people or 9.3% of the US population has diabetes. Type 2 diabetes accounts for the largest group of people who have diabetes.
Another 86 million have been diagnosed as being pre-diabetic.
Globally, according to a 2016 report by the World Health Association, an estimated 422 million adults were living with diabetes in 2014, compared to 108 million in 1980. In fact, the global prevalence of diabetes has nearly doubled since 1980, rising from 4.7% to 8.5% in the adult population. Diabetes is on the rise not only in the United States but also around the world, and the complications from diabetes are impacting individuals and their families.
Behind these numbers are people coming to terms with the emotional and physical realities of managing their disease. We mentioned the importance of activity and exercise as well as healthy eating habits. Stress is also an important considering when managing diabetes. Learning to live with diabetes can weigh down the strongest amongst us and that stress can raise your blood sugar. Learning ways to lower stress, from yoga and deep breathing to gardening and listening to your favourite music, can keep your mind in a healthy state.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases recommends acquainting yourself with the ABCs: your A1C, Blood Pressure, and Cholesterol. Considering your ABCs can help lower your chances of having a heart attack, stroke, or other diabetes problems. When it comes to your blood pressure, monitoring it is a necessary addition to your daily routine. The key to the lifestyle changes diabetics undergo is having options to monitor glucose levels that are both effective, and affordable.
Technology Makes Monitoring Easier
Active management and monitoring of glucose is neither convenient nor cost effective for many. Some medical professionals recommend up to 10 tests per day. Assuming you have the schedule and discipline to stick with it, most diabetics have had to resort to testing their glucose levels through frequent, invasive needle pricks on their fingers.
There are saliva-testing devices under review by the US Food and Drug Administration, and Google was rumoured to be testing smart contact lenses that could monitor glucose levels as well. But a finger sticks remains the most common test despite the pain of a prick, the need to record readings and do so multiple times per day.
More convenient and accurate methods of testing glucose levels are becoming more readily available. For example, Abbott Laboratories invented the FreeStyle Libre system.
The device has been hailed for its convenience. Placed just under the skin, the sensor continuously measures glucose levels in the interstitial fluid that bathes the cells. Those wearing the device can use their smartphones to get immediate readings. According to Bloomberg, FreeStyle Libre users scanned their sensors an average 16 times a day; some exceeded 45.
While the repeated checks help diabetics lower their glucose levels, Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) systems are costly. Prices can range between $3,000 and $4,000/year, limiting the accessibility of life-saving monitoring. However, companies like Ambrosia Systems are reinventing the wheel, bringing cost savings and convenience to glucose monitoring.
We invented BluCon to build an affordable next generation continuous glucose monitoring like system for diabetic and pre-diabetic patients. Our iOS and Android apps work with Abbot’s FreeStyle Libre sensor, sending glucose readings to any Bluetooth enabled connected device.
Today, two factors prohibit active monitoring and management of diabetes: cost and inconvenience. BluCon quickly reads data from Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre sensor and sends that data to the LinkBluCon mobile app on your phone for less than half the annual cost of available solutions. Our battery life is also twice as long, adding to the convenience and cost savings brought by BluCon.
Living with diabetes entails constant glucose monitoring, which, as we noted, can mean significant lifestyle changes. Checking glucose levels, and keeping an accurate record, can be complicated. BluCon is meant to simplify glucose monitoring and ongoing management of your type 1 or type 2 diabetes.