Changing the World of Diabetes
The world has come a long way from its ancient roots where technology rarely played a part in our lives and thankfully to our liking, it is changing our world for the better.
Diabetes is a major concern across the world. The focus should lie upon how to make a diabetic’s life stress free and enable him/her to live a normal life. This can only be achieved with the help of technology. Latest scientific advances in the field of technology have various medical applications which have helped save thousands, if not millions, of lives across the globe. The number of people living a better and more relaxed life owing to these advances could almost amount for some sort of a record.
We have come a long way indeed, from the times when one had to go to the doctor for every single thing and those applications cost a lot, to the recent times when the living standards have improved by thousands of times and a tiny peek into the future is very comforting. During the past 30 years, life of diabetics has seen so many changes right from the way they check themselves up to the accessories they use. The information flow has been laid out for anyone who has access to internet with millions of virtual mentors popping up every year to give anyone any piece of advice they seek.
Diabetics, in the past, had to struggle on multiple levels besides their already depreciating health. The available technology was extremely expensive and cumbersome to use. The expertise available was limited to extravagant hospitals.
1) Old Insulin Pumps
If we take the example of insulin pump, it was a giant metal object which was as heavy as a jetpack if not more. Already facing the problem of receding breath and health it was a mountainous job to carry this device around your shoulder. The parts of these devices were also very expensive, therefore, one would have to incur a great cost for the maintenance and upkeep of the device. Thankfully these devices today have a place in museums and not in our lives.
2) Monitoring Devices
Monitoring devices of the era gone by were so massive that one simply could not keep it at their home. The cost incurred to buy them was great and therefore the only access point for them was at a hospital where one would have to pay a hefty fee to get them. The process was extremely tedious and time consuming and in case of an emergency, the procedure would cause a surge in the stress level.
3) Clinical Visits
This process was one of the most stressful experiences of a diabetic in the past. One had to solely rely on doctor’s advise with the amount of tests done on a weekly basis putting a big hole in your pocket and the test results coming out only by the end of the week. The amount of information and research available was very limited and the only way to access it was by physically visiting the doctor.
We have come a long way from the cumbersome and limited options available to fight diabetes. Medical and technological advancements have garnered a more diabetic-friendly environment around us. The amount of money spent on research and development have increased manifold. The kind of data available to a diabetic is probably million times more than what was available in the past 3 decades alone. The devices have also become more accessible, sleeker and cheaper with time.
1) Smart Monitors
It is hard to believe that the once bulky machines are now as sleek as your average smartphones.
Manufacturers in this field have come up with the genius solution of attaching external instruments to your smartphone via the headphone jack, enabling you to monitor your blood glucose level. Such monitors are compatible with most of the Android, Blackberry, Windows and iPhones available in the market. One has to simple download an app, insert a test strip into the smart device connected to the phone and the results are available on the phone’s screen.
2) Management Apps
Our lives in the current era has seen a major upwards spike. If one goes just with the kind of data available at our disposal, there are more than 1,100 iOS and Android apps designed specifically to help people manage diabetes. Some apps help in tracking insulin, exercise and sugar intake while others cater towards providing diabetes-specific cookbooks including recipes to satisfy the sweet tooth craving. Some apps are also crowd-funded where one can donate money towards diabetic research and have it available to them first hand upon its completion along with all the weekly updates. Then there are apps which let the users record their meals (calorie intake), exercise, insulin levels and share the records with physicians for accurate monitoring.
With the kind of research and development being done at the moment, the future for a diabetic looks very bright. We hope that the advancement in technology will soon see a day when diabetes will become a reversible disease. However, with the growth in nanotechnology and the other scientific arms, it seems that a diabetic will be able to lead a normal life and enjoy the indulgences which life has to offer without any compromises.
1) Smart Contact Lens
Even Google has come forward into the world of medical technology, working towards improving the lifestyle and easing the burden on diabetics. The company is in the process of developing a smart contact lens system which will be able to measure glucose levels in tears/fluid in the eye via a tiny wireless chip and miniaturized glucose sensor embedded between two layers of soft contact lens material. At the moment the developers are also experimenting with a module in which an integrated LED lights system could show if the glucose levels have passed above or below a particular threshold. However, the company wants to bring onboard more experts to turn this technology into an everyday wearable product available for the masses.
2) Closed-Loop Bionic Pancreas System
One day an automated blood glucose control system may become a reality. A system currently being tested on people with type 1 diabetes by engineers from Boston University will have a closed loop bionic pancreas system which will continuously monitor the glucose and will also deliver a rapid acting insulin and glucaGen by an algorithm. The artificial pancreas makes decisions at an interval of five minutes about the insulin and glucaGen doses, which the previous bionic pancreases could not do. “Achieving and maintaining near-normal blood glucose concentrations are critical for the long-term health of people with diabetes. Unfortunately, the therapy required to achieve this goal is extremely demanding, requiring frequent blood glucose checks and either multiple daily insulin injections or the use of an insulin pump,” the researchers wrote. “Even with current state-of-the-art insulin replacement, it is almost impossible to completely avoid hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia,” added the researcher.
Nanotechnology is seen as the future of diabetic cure and it holds the key for many issues related to the disease. This new integrated technology is made with antibacterial nanofibres of cellulose acetate loaded with silver helping accelerate tissue repair, thereby eliminating slow wound healing, which is a common phenomenon among diabetics. Slow wound healing is caused due to diabetic neuropathy (Blood is needed to repair skin, but is unable to be transported to where it needs to go), which results in poor blood circulation. And this current application of nanotechnology can be incorporated into a new kind of dressing on wounds. In the future, the root cause of foot ulcers and the risk of amputations will be eliminated altogether, thanks to nanotechnology.
4) No More Needles
A research team from the University of Leeds, UK has been developing a low-powered laser device, which will enable continuous blood sugar monitoring. The device may well be developed as a wearable system which will abolish the need of needles and thereby completely eliminating the tedious task of pricking your finger with a needle on a sample strip and wait for the results.
By Siddhartha Shiv Khanna