Diabetes is a chronic medical condition that affects how your body processes blood sugar (glucose). With diabetes, the body either doesn’t produce enough insulin or can’t effectively use the insulin it does produce, leading to high blood sugar levels. According to the International Diabetes Federation, approximately 463 million adults were living with diabetes in 2019, and this number is expected to rise to 700 million by 2045.
The treatment and management of diabetes have evolved over time. The first effective treatment for diabetes was developed in 1921 when insulin was discovered, and it became available for clinical use. Since then, different methods have been developed to help people with diabetes manage their condition and live healthier lives.
Understanding the Benefits of Using an Insulin Pump for Diabetes Management
Insulin pumps are medical devices that deliver insulin to people with diabetes. They are typically worn on the body and connected to a cannula or tubing that is inserted into the skin to deliver insulin. However, there are also tubeless insulin pumps and insulin pods available that do not require tubing.
CGM stands for continuous glucose monitoring and is a device that measures glucose levels in real-time.
In terms of ordering supplies or getting customer service, it would be best to contact the manufacturer of your specific insulin pump or CGM device. They should have a customer service line or website where you can order supplies or get help with any issues.
Training is typically provided by healthcare professionals such as doctors, diabetes educators, or pump trainers. Insurance coverage for insulin pumps and CGM devices can vary, so it’s important to check with your insurance provider to see what is covered.
Test strips are used to measure blood glucose levels and are typically used with a blood glucose meter.
If you are located in Canada, it may be helpful to contact a local diabetes association or support group for additional resources and information.
Below you will find a detailed description of some of these notions.
Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM)
Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) is a technology that allows people with diabetes to track their blood sugar levels in real-time. A CGM system consists of a tiny sensor that is inserted under the skin to measure glucose levels in the interstitial fluid, a transmitter that sends the data to a receiver, and a receiver that displays the glucose data.
The benefits of using CGM include providing more detailed information about glucose patterns and trends, alerting users to high and low glucose levels, reducing the frequency of fingerstick checks, and helping users make informed decisions about insulin dosing, physical activity, and food intake.
Examples of popular CGM systems include Dexcom G6, Abbott FreeStyle Libre, and Medtronic Guardian Sensor 3.
Insulin Pumps and Artificial Pancreas
Insulin pumps are small electronic devices that deliver insulin to the body continuously through a small tube called a cannula. The pump is worn outside the body and is programmed to deliver a specific amount of insulin based on the user’s needs.
An artificial pancreas is a system that combines an insulin pump with a continuous glucose monitor to automatically adjust insulin delivery based on the user’s blood sugar levels. This technology aims to mimic the function of a healthy pancreas by providing the right amount of insulin at the right time.
The benefits of using insulin pumps and artificial pancreas systems include improved glucose control, more flexibility with meal planning and physical activity, and fewer hypoglycemic events.
Examples of popular insulin pumps systems include:
- Medtronic MiniMed 670G: This insulin pump is an advanced device that is designed to work with a CGM system to provide automated insulin delivery. The pump uses a closed-loop system to monitor glucose levels and automatically adjust insulin delivery to maintain blood sugar levels within a target range. The MiniMed 670G is the first insulin pump to be approved by the FDA for use in people with type 1 diabetes as young as 7 years old.
- Tandem t:slim X2: This insulin pump is a touchscreen device that is designed to be simple and intuitive to use. The pump can be paired with a CGM system to provide automatic insulin dosing based on glucose readings. The t:slim X2 also has the ability to update its software remotely, which means that new features and capabilities can be added without the need for a physical device upgrade.
- YpsoPump: YpsoPump is a tubeless insulin pump that uses a small, lightweight pump to deliver insulin. The pump is attached to the skin using an adhesive pompe insuline patch and is controlled through a handheld device.
- Roche Accu-Chek Spirit Combo: This insulin pump is a customizable device that can be tailored to individual needs and preferences. The pump features a color touchscreen and a variety of customizable alerts and reminders. The Accu-Chek Spirit Combo also has a built-in bolus advisor that can help users calculate insulin doses based on food intake and glucose levels.
- Cellnovo Diabetes Management System: This insulin pump is a compact and lightweight device that is designed to be worn on the body. The pump uses a mobile app to provide real-time glucose monitoring and insulin dosing, and it can also be controlled using a handheld device or a web browser. The Cellnovo Diabetes Management System also has the ability to transmit data to healthcare providers, which can help with remote monitoring and management.
New Drug Therapies for Diabetes
New drug therapies for diabetes are continually being developed to improve glucose control and reduce the risk of complications. These drugs work in different ways, including increasing insulin production, reducing glucose production in the liver, improving insulin sensitivity, and increasing glucose excretion in the urine.
The benefits of using new drug therapies include improved glucose control, reduced risk of complications, and fewer side effects than older medications.
Examples of new drug therapies include:
- Closed-loop insulin delivery systems: These systems combine insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors to automatically adjust insulin doses in response to glucose levels, reducing the need for frequent glucose monitoring and insulin injections.
- GLP-1 receptor agonists: These drugs stimulate the release of insulin and suppress the release of glucagon, a hormone that raises blood sugar levels. They can be taken as injections or oral medications and have been shown to improve blood sugar control and promote weight loss.
- SGLT2 inhibitors: These drugs block the reabsorption of glucose by the kidneys, leading to increased glucose excretion in the urine. They have been shown to lower blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of cardiovascular events in people with type 2 diabetes.
- Artificial pancreas systems: These systems combine closed-loop insulin delivery with continuous glucose monitoring and can automatically adjust insulin doses based on glucose levels, physical activity, and other factors. They are still relatively new and not widely available, but have shown promise in improving blood sugar control and reducing the risk of hypoglycemia.
- Telemedicine: With the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increased interest in remote healthcare, including telemedicine for diabetes management. This allows people with diabetes to receive care from the comfort of their own homes, reducing the risk of exposure to COVID-19 and improving access to care.
Dietary and Lifestyle Changes
Dietary and lifestyle changes can help people with diabetes manage their condition and reduce their risk of complications. These changes include following a healthy eating plan, being physically active, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding smoking.
The benefits of making dietary and lifestyle changes include improved glucose control, reduced risk of complications, and improved overall health.
Examples of recommended dietary and lifestyle changes include consuming a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats, engaging in regular physical activity, and quitting smoking.