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Advances in Monitoring and Treating Diabetes

Updated on August 26, 2017
Terrielynn1 profile image

Terrie has type 2 diabetes. She has a certificate in fitness and nutrition. She has a passion for helping others find their path to health.

The Past, Present, and Future:

In this article, I will discuss recent improvements in the way we monitor and treat diabetes. If you and your doctor are trying to decide what type of glucose meter or treatment will work for you, this article should be helpful. It will not only help make you aware of what's out there, but it will also show where we are heading in the near future.

This article is intended only to inform and is in no way meant to replace the information or treatment you receive from your doctor or clinician. I had never heard of some of these recent advances until I did this research and became part of a diabetes group. It's an exciting time to see where diabetes treatment and care is headed.

My new glucose meter is shorter than a pen, self-contained, and smaller than my iPhone.
My new glucose meter is shorter than a pen, self-contained, and smaller than my iPhone.

Advances in Glucose Monitors

Pictured below is my glucose meter from only eight years ago. These are some of its features:

  • A super-sized bag was needed just to carry the meter and everyday supplies.
  • You had to code the meter with a solution before using the box of strips.
  • This meter also required more blood.
  • An extra log book was needed to keep track of your daily information and readings.
  • It was recommended to clean fingers with alcohol first.
  • This practice and stripping the fingers to get blood. Made them dry and sore.

In contrast, my current glucose meter is pictured, at the top of this article. These are some of its features:

  • Notice how small it is. It's shorter than a pen.
  • It needs no coding solution.
  • Everything you need to check your blood, except the extra lancets. Are all contained, within the case.
  • Talk about advances, it also uses less blood and is more accurate.
  • And best of all it fits in a purse or small bag.
  • Gone are the days of sore fingers and smelling like alcohol.
  • It plugs right into your smartphone and gives you the data right away.
  • This meter allows you to store carb intake, exercise, insulin amounts and calculates your average HBA1C. After, you have used it for more than a week.
  • Your blood sugar and all data can be sent right to your doctor or specialist.

The Monitor of the Past

Glucose monitor of the past. Eight years ago, I used this big, bulky kit.
Glucose monitor of the past. Eight years ago, I used this big, bulky kit.

Five Recognized Types of Diabetes

There are now five recognized types of diabetes. That fact changes how diabetes is, treated. Which, is also considered an advancement.

  • Gestational. This type is diagnosed, during pregnancy. The treatment varies depending on the spike in glucose in the blood. There is a sugar test that is, given. That will tell whether the treatment will be diet control, or needs an oral pill, or insulin shots will have to be, given.
  • Prediabetes. This one used to be known as the gray area. Some doctors say diet is enough to control, along with exercise. Others say it should be treated similarly to type 2, which often means an oral medication is, given.
  • Type 1. This type was once, called juvenile diabetes. This thought has also changed. We are seeing an increase in adults with type 1 diabetes. This type requires a life time of insulin as the pancreas no longer produces insulin. Counting carbs and using insulin at every meal will help to stabilize blood sugar. Sometimes a long acting insulin is also needed at night. If you are, a brittle diabetic. The insulin pump in some cases is the best option.
  • Type 1.5. This type wasn't a consideration when I was, diagnosed 12 years ago. It is now recognized, as having some traits of both type 1 and 2. Type 1.5 requires the use of both oral medications and insulin.
  • Type 2, or late-onset diabetes. Because it mainly affects adults, it was thought to be diet- and exercise-related. New studies show there can also be a genetic component. Which, is found in adults. But as the face of diabetes is changing, now children are being diagnosed with this type. Most start out with oral meds and some progress to non-insulin or insulin injection. That also depends on the determination of the labs that were, given and doctors prescription for the patient's treatment. Relatively new thoughts are low carb and a diet high in healthy, quality fats and carbs low in glycemic index. Along with fresh fruit and veggies.

No matter what kind or type of diabetes you have, we can all benefit from the advancements made. Thank you to those who are participating in ongoing trials In order to make diabetes more livable.

The Future of Blood Glucose Meters

New Ways to Check Blood Glucose

These seem a bit futuristic, but they aren't. These methods of monitoring your blood glucose may be closer than you think. All of the above photos show ways of testing blood glucose that is currently being, tested.

  • Apple is helping to lead the way, using the Apple watch to check blood glucose levels. To learn more, check out, Diabetes Daily.
  • The microchip looking reader or tattoo is an ongoing process. It's a patch that has tiny little needles that sit just under the skin. It's in trials now, and it also reads the blood glucose levels. This article can be found, in The Atlantic.
  • And last but not least, this amazing reader of your blood glucose only requires you lay your finger in the slot provided. This method, I think, I love the most. A light reads your glucose levels and gives you the results. More info can be found, in Science Daily.

The old vial and needle

The way insulin is contained has also changed.
The way insulin is contained has also changed. | Source

The new pen

Insulin now comes in a pen, which makes it easier to use.
Insulin now comes in a pen, which makes it easier to use.

Insulin Containers: Past and Present

How you take insulin has changed, too. Insulin used to come in vials with syringes. Now many types come in a pen form. No more carrying syringes separate from your insulin. Just dial it up and push the end until it stops. The Insulin and needle are one unit. My pen is much easier to use and can be out of the refrigerator for longer than the old vials could.

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Diet is an Important Part of Diabetes Treatment

Fruit and veggies play an important part of a low-carb food plan.
Fruit and veggies play an important part of a low-carb food plan. | Source

One of the Choices for Type 2 Diabetics Is Low Carb

Beliefs about the role diet plays in diabetes have also changed. We had become accustomed to the American Association of Nutrition and Health. For some it's was the Canadian version of the same organization. There are many forms of nutrition and food plans to choose from and follow. You need to experiment with different ways of eating and find what works for you. I am using the example of the low-carb diet here because that's what is working for me.

The effect this diet has on my glucose level is astounding. My HBA1C has gone from 12 to 6.0 in less than a year. I have also lost 45 pounds. That is just from reducing my intake of carbs. I have also been able to reduce my meds, with the help of my doctor. Again, I'll say that everyone is different, but this diet worked for me. Dr. Priyanka Wali, of San Francisco, gives talks on the benefits of the low-carb diet for people with diabetes.

Summary

  • Gone are the days of using coding fluid for meters.
  • Meters now are convenient and easy to use.
  • The future is full of promise for meters and diabetes treatment. Progress continues to move forward.
  • Promises of a future with no invasive pokes, sore fingers. Technology has improved diabetic care in many ways and will continue to change.
  • We discussed five types of diabetes and how the treatment has changed.
  • The did you know section, is meant to inform you of the more recent types of diabetes being, recognized. And how even the treatment for each has changed.
  • Gestational, Pre-diabetes, Type 1, Type 1.5 and Type 2.
  • The treatment varies from diet controlled, oral medications, non-insulin injectable, and insulin.
  • Finally, the changes made to the diet to optimize health and how you can gain better control of diabetes.
  • I went to low carb and smaller portions; it's the best decision I ever made. You need to do what's best for you.
  • Fruit and veggies are a good start to changing eating habits.

Cell Transplant Trials on Now

The University of Alberta Hospital, in Edmonton, Alberta, is leading the way in some very promising trials. They are in the process of studying cell transplants for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Research is ongoing. They are not calling it a cure yet, but it's very close.

  • Type 1, Islet transplant being, done as we speak. So far two years into the transplants of these cells has allowed patients to live insulin-free.
  • Type 2, Beta cell transplant is showing patients no longer have a pancreas with insulin resistance. Which means the insulin produced by the pancreas is now functioning the way it supposed to.

It very promising news. The reason it's not being called a cure is that the patients remained on anti-rejection medications. The hope is real! Life, as we know it for diabetics, is getting ready for big changes. I'll update as new information comes out in regards to its progress.

Even though diabetes treatment is becoming more convenient and less invasive, most would still find this statement to be irritating.
Even though diabetes treatment is becoming more convenient and less invasive, most would still find this statement to be irritating. | Source

I Recommend Support Groups

Once you have been diagnosed, I suggest you find a support group, either in your area or on the internet. There are many out there. Reach out and find one that works for you. Many are glad to help. We all need someone sometimes. Your doctor should also have a list of support groups in your local area or nearby.

Sources

  • Diabetes Daily
  • Diabetic Living
  • Diabetes Team for Type 2 Diabetics
  • The Atlantic
  • Diabetes Care
  • Science Daily
  • University of Alberta Hospital
  • My experience: I feel the need to share this information because I have had gestational diabetes with two pregnancies. I've had pre-diabetes for 14 years and type 2 for almost 13 years. The struggle is real, and I am always looking for information on where diabetes treatment is headed next.

Update! Update!

There is exciting news for Type 2 diabetes. A new implant is in a trial phase now. This tiny implant is put into the body of a person with type 2 diabetes, stimulating the pancreas to be more efficient. Improvement in glucose reduction has been seen in insulin-resistant diabetics, which results in fewer sugars in the blood.

© 2016 Terrie Lynn

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    • Terrielynn1 profile image
      Author

      Terrie Lynn 12 months ago from Canada

      Thank you. This one comes from the heart and every advancement excites me.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 12 months ago from USA

      My mother, grandmother and several of her people have diabetes. I didn't know about type 1'5. Interesting read here.