The top glucose monitors, insulin pumps, dosage management tools and dietary apps for diabetes sufferers.
By Kieran Alger
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According to the International Diabetes Federation’s last count in 2017, 425 million adults and over a million children are living with diabetes. A further 325 million people are at risk of developing the disease. And those numbers are on the rise. Dramatically.
Diabetes diagnoses can be segmented into two very specific types.
Type 1 diabetes
This is where your body can’t naturally produce as the insulin required to regulate blood glucose. Often diagnosed in childhood, it is irreversible and means you’re dependent on insulin medication to help balance your blood sugar for the rest of your life. Some people choose injections while others wear a pump to distribute a continual stream throughout the day. Type 1 diabetes suffers must check their blood glucose levels regularly in order to identify dangerous fluctuations. If levels sink too low, or get too high, Type 1 sufferers can slip into a diabetic coma.
Type 2 diabetes
This is usually diagnosed in adulthood, though levels are on the rise in children. Sufferers of this form produce insulin, but their bodies don’t use it effectively, meaning glucose can gather in the bloodstream. This form of the disease is by far the most common and is often associated with lifestyle – inactivity, poor diet and carrying excessive weight. Type 2 diabetes sufferers are non-insulin dependent and use it when needed to manage the condition, often in conjunction with other medications and lifestyle changes. The latter can help to control or even reverse the condition.
Other complications for both forms of the illness include high blood pressure, increased risk of kidney disease, heightened risk of a heart attack or stroke, eye damage or nerve damage.
Technology to tackle Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes
The good news for diabetics is that, we’re now seeing a broad range of technological solutions designed to address the challenges for Type 1 and Type 2 sufferers.
Advanced glucose monitors and pumps help Type 1 sufferers track sugar levels and manage their insulin dosages, while also helping Type 2 diabetics to keep tabs on their blood glucose.
Many solutions allow diabetes sufferers to dispense with painful thumb pricks when measuring glucose.
Many solutions allow diabetes sufferers to dispense with painful thumb pricks when measuring glucose, and offer continuous monitoring over the course of a few days. Smartphone-connected solutions alert people in real-time when a spike or fall in blood glucose is occurring, allowing them to react accordingly.
Some emerging companies have even developed AI-based solutions that predict when a patient might experience those fluctuations, while others make it possible for diabetes sufferers to identify the foods that help to regulate their condition. We’re seeing closed loop solutions to tackle all of the essential tasks, aiming to help sufferers monitor blood sugar, distribute insulin as required and warn people of fluctuations.
⚠️ Always consult your doctor before experimenting with any new health technology or self-monitoring tools.
The best diabetes health tech to buy
From insulin pumps to glucose monitoring, here are the best technology buys to monitor your diabetes:
No more painful thumb pricks! This less-invasive flash blood glucose monitoring system uses a small sensor placed on the arm. When it’s attached, a thin sterile fibre is inserted under the skin with a painless applicator. Best of all, you can transmit the data from the sensor wirelessly from your phone via near-field communications (NFC). The app shows real time blood glucose data, including which way the readings are trending. It can show the last eight hours of data, whether you’re in a safe range and allows you to add notes pertaining to food intake and insulin. BUY NOW
Dexcom offers continuous blood glucose monitoring (CGM) via an easily-applied sensor and transmitter set that delivers live information to iPhone and Android devices, including the wrist-based Apple Watch and Wear OS devices. The apps allow you to set blood glucose alerts – if you’re running high or low – and it’s easy to share your data with followers such as family or other medical practitioners. Sensors are water resistant and can be worn for ten days continuously and yes, there are no thumb pricks necessary. MORE INFO
X2 Insulin Pump
One of the smallest insulin pumps available, the X2 can still hold up to 300 units of insulin. It also offers a user-friendly touchscreen interface making it easy to customise doses, depending on your needs. A major selling point is the Basil-IQ technology, which predicts lows (using historical data from your CGM) and suspends insulin delivery, then resumes once glucose is on the rise. The durable and water resistant, aluminium t:slim X2 also pairs with the Dexcom G6 (above) sensors, meaning you can see your blood glucose data in real time. MORE INFO
The OmniPod system is designed to give diabetes sufferers more control over their insulin delivery. It comes in two parts. A discreet, tubeless and waterproof insulin pump worn on the body (affixed anywhere you’d have an injection), and a handheld personalised diabetes monitor. Insulin is distributed at a customisable rate around the clock (Basal) or can be used ad hoc at meal times or to bring down high blood sugar (Bolar). It’s another needle-free solution that also has a glucose manager built-in, enabling you to keep tabs on your levels at all times. MORE INFO
This smartphone-connected injection pen allows diabetes sufferers to keep tabs on how many units of insulin, they’re using. The Bluetooth pen syncs to a mobile app that shows your usage history and can be used to calculate doses, which can then be amended using the pen. There’s a dose calculator, in-depth reporting and even temperature warnings when extreme hot or cold weather might render the insulin ineffective. The pen is compatible with Lilly Humalog and Novo Nordisk Novolog cartridges and single use and detachable needles. BUY NOW
OneDrop uses predictive artificial intelligence from its existing data points to provide users with accurate forecasts on blood glucose levels (Type 2 for now), helping them to avoid spikes and drops by taking preventative measures such as hydrating or taking a walk. However, this holistic solution is far more than just the app, the company sells an attractive portable glucose monitor, along with test strips and lancets. Bluetooth connectivity lets you sync readings to a mobile app, while the company recently announced integration with the Apple Watch too. It’s only available in the US at the moment, but OneDrop is gaining serious momentum and is now available in Apple Store retail locations. BUY NOW
Piggybacking the FreeStyle Libre CGM, the Mylevels app aims to help diabetes sufferers – non sufferers too – to identify how their diet can cause a spike in blood glucose. This is of great assistance to Type 1 sufferers. Users are required to input foods and will see specific blood sugar responses to the foods they eat. The idea is to help diabetes sufferers beat the cravings that can cause spikes, and weight gain and identify foods that can keep their levels balanced. JOIN THE BETA