Diabetes is a chronic health condition that affects how your body uses glucose, also referred to as blood sugar. With an increase in the diagnosis of diabetes worldwide, technology has become crucial to help address type 1 and type 2 diabetes. “Continuous glucose monitors and insulin pumps have made it easier to manage diabetes. We have more available technology and medications to be able to better manage it than at any other time,” said Emily Hunt, family nurse practitioner with Endocrinology at East Tennessee Medical Group.
Continuous glucose monitors can be worn on the body, typically on the arm, since they are lightweight and discreet. Continuous glucose monitors allow type 1 and type 2 diabetes patients to check blood sugar every few minutes and transmit that data to a device, often a smart phone. “So, checking blood sugar is as easy as looking at your mobile device. This also enables us to identify trends. We’ve noticed that when people are wearing a continuous glucose monitor, their blood sugars tend to improve. We think this is because the device is giving them the information they were missing to help them understand what makes their blood sugar rise. I also recommend patients keep a food journal so we can quickly find out what was going on when we see the readings. With that information in-hand, patients tend to make changes in lifestyle or diet on their own that help lower their blood sugars,” Hunt explained.
From a safety standpoint, especially for people taking insulin, the device allows users to be alerted if their blood sugar is running really low or high. “Think about people sleeping at night who may not realize their blood sugar is low. Thanks to this device, an alarm goes off so they can wake up and treat that low blood sugar, plus it allows us to identify that pattern so we can make an adjustment to prevent that low from happening on a continuous basis. That can save lives,” Hunt adds. For type 1 diabetes patients or individuals who use an insulin pump, there are a number of pumps on the market that operate by communicating with a glucose sensor. The pump uses that information to safely auto-adjust the amount of insulin that gets delivered or suspended, taking the guesswork out of it.
“The reason we screen for and manage diabetes is because it puts people at risk for heart attacks, strokes, chronic kidney disease, neuropathy, vision problems and blindness. Diabetes is what we call a ‘risk equivalent’ for a heart attack or stroke, so when we think about who is most at risk, we think of those people who have already had a heart attack or stroke. It turns out having diabetes is almost like having had a heart attack or stroke in terms of the risk it confers, so we really want to manage it, control that risk and prevent those events,” Hunt explained.
For more information about diabetes or to make an appointment with a provider at East Tennessee Medical Group, call 865-984-3864.