Senior Clinical Advisor, Diabetes UK
Diabetes is a serious condition where someone’s blood glucose levels are too high. There are two main types, Type 1 and Type 2. They are different conditions, but they are both serious. There are some other, rarer, types of diabetes too.
If you’ve got Type 2 diabetes, the insulin you make either can’t work effectively, or you can’t produce enough of it. When you’ve got Type 1 diabetes, you can’t make any insulin at all and we all need insulin to live.
For many people with diabetes, technology can be a really important part of how they manage their condition – for example, technology can help people take their insulin or check their blood glucose (sugar) levels.
Tech can make managing diabetes much easier
There are lots of different types of diabetes tech, like insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors (CGM). Depending on how their diabetes is treated, people with the condition might already be using things like insulin pens and blood glucose monitors.
Options to manage diabetes are growing as technology starts to develop, which is an important step forward as the benefits of such technology could be endless.
People with diabetes, their families, the healthcare professionals who support them and researchers, all make the case that technology can really help manage diabetes and, in turn, significantly improve quality of life and reduce the risk of serious complications.
As far as current technologies are concerned, there are three broad themes: tech for checking blood sugars and ketones, tech to help manage diabetes like carb counting apps and tech for taking insulin. There’s also the growing research around the artificial pancreas or closed loop technology.
Flash and CGM devices can help people with Type 1 diabetes manage their condition better as they help monitor glucose levels.
Flash glucose monitors mean fewer finger prick tests
Many people with diabetes, including those who treat their condition with insulin or certain other medications, need to self-monitor their blood glucose levels. This is usually done with a finger prick blood test using a meter that indicates the glucose level at the time of the test. People with diabetes who use insulin often need to test many times a day.
In contrast, Flash uses a small sensor that people wear on their skin that records and stores the last eight hours of glucose readings, and can be read by scanning the sensor whenever needed. Although Flash measures the amount of glucose in the fluid that surrounds cells, rather than the glucose levels in the actual blood – and there is a small delay when checking this fluid, the device can free people from having to test by finger prick as frequently. This makes it easier to keep on top of their glucose levels.
Crucially, because Flash helps people test more frequently, and gives them much more information, it in turn supports people to manage their condition better.
This can then reduce the risk of serious diabetes-related complications, such as amputation, sight loss and stroke, as well as improving quality of life, and saving the NHS much-needed funds.
For more information about diabetes and technology, please visit our website diabetes.org.uk