The complexities of diabetes are being explored by medical device manufacturers and scientists. There have been several types of revolutionary wearable technology recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for people with diabetes. There may be many more new types of technology in the future.
What is Wearable Technology for Type I Diabetes?
Wearable tech for diabetics includes continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) and insulin pumps, which can help a diabetic manage blood sugar much more easily and efficiently. The technology was originally made for people with type 1 diabetes, but the technology has expanded to be available for those with type II diabetes as well.
The uniqueness of CGM monitoring devices is that, unlike the old glucometers, this new technology allows diabetics to track glucose levels on an ongoing basis. Insulin pumps deliver exact amounts of insulin at each dose. When the two systems are used together, the result is better control of blood sugar than ever before.
Usually every five minutes, a CGM detects blood sugar with an implantable or stick-on (attached to the skin) sensor that detects blood glucose levels in real-time. A sensor can either be implanted in the skin (the physician places a small cannula just under the skin) or attached to the skin with adhesive. Depending on the CGM model you use, you need to replace the sensors every 10 to 90 days. Depending on the CGM model, a transmitter connects to the sensor to transmit blood glucose readings either to your monitoring device or to your smartphone.
Features of Wearable Technology
Some models, such as the Dexcom CGM System were designed for use in children (over age 2) as well as for adults. Other features of some of the wearable tech devices include:
- Transmits glucose levels as often as every five minutes
- Can set alarms for notification of high and low blood glucose levels
- High accuracy levels
- Some units offer integration with insulin pumps to automatically dispense the right amount of insulin (according to blood glucose levels)
- Readings can be transmitted directly to a smartphone (with some models)
- No finger pricks are needed (most units come pre-calibrated from the factory)
What are Automatic Insulin Pumps?
Before advanced medical technology was available, people with type 1 diabetes had to self-inject insulin. Today, there are more convenient options available, including an insulin pump. An insulin pump is a small, portable device worn outside of the body (e.g., attached to a belt, worn around the waist, or attached an armband).
How Do Insulin Pumps Work?
An insulin pump delivers insulin under the skin (into a layer of fat tissue) through a thin tube called a catheter. Pumps work by delivering small amounts of short-acting insulin continuously (called the basal rate) and then a varying amount of insulin in response to