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People With Diabetes Can Use Apps to Help Find a Path That Works

There are many ways to keep track of your blood sugar level

Shay Burk Staff Reporter
4 min read
Monitor Your Blood Sugar with the Best Apps for Diabetics

Apps Mentioned in Video

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It gives a sense of order and trends to a disease that can easily feel chaotic and hard to understand. 
- Aubrey Rinehart

In the world of smartphone technology, there is an app for almost anything, such as buying groceries, checking your horoscope, managing money, or planning a romantic date.

So it would only seem logical that there are numerous apps for people with diabetes to help manage their health.

Aubrey Reinhart appears in videos for AppGrooves helping people find the right apps for them. The 25-year-old, herself, uses apps to help monitor her blood sugar and count her carb intake has been a part of her diabetic journey from almost the very beginning.

“I feel like, over the almost 7 years that I’ve had type 1 diabetes, I’ve found a lot of great tools that work well for me and tried a few that didn’t quite serve me well,” Rinehart said.

As a result, she started out taking multiple injections each day and lived with a constant fear of having her blood sugar drop too low especially overnight.

Going High Tech

Rinehart quickly moved to an insulin pump, which administers small doses of insulin on a regular basis while monitoring a person’s blood sugar, to keep it in an acceptable range.

Rinehart uses the Omnipod insulin pump and the Dexcom Continuous Glucose Monitor.

“The best part about both of these devices is the ability to see my information so clearly in organized graphs and reports,” Rinehart said. “Before when I was just on the injections and meter readings, I didn’t really have any idea how I was doing until I went to my endocrinologist to get my A1C reading.”

Now she accesses information from her glucose monitor on her phone, providing direct access to her blood sugar readings any time she wants. While her insulin pump doesn’t work through an app yet, Rinehart said technology is moving in that direction.

Diabetes Apps

Rinehart uses the Tandem app to track her food trends, determine which foods cause blood sugar spikes, and the amount of insulin needed before a meal to best counter those foods.

“It gives a sense of order and trends to a disease that can easily feel chaotic and hard to understand,” Rinehart said. “Of course, the trends aren’t perfect. So many things affect blood sugar besides eating, such as illness, stress levels, and hormonal changes, to name a few.”

Rinehart also uses the app, Carb Manager, which is key for helping a person monitor his or her carbohydrate intake.

“I’m also pretty guilty of getting lazy and not really wanting to put a lot of effort into my carb counts, but with an app that gets me quick info in just a few minutes, I’m a little more motivated to check,” Rinehart said. “Not to mention my smartphone is never too far away, so I don’t have that much of an excuse.”

Reality Bites

While she uses smartphone technology on a daily basis to monitor her diabetes, there are days Rinehart doesn’t feel like documenting what she’s eaten on Tandem or monitor her carbs as she should. She also knows that not everyone with diabetes prefers to use this technology.

“I think what’s most important is just that the options are out there,” she said.

A Doctor’s Perspective

Dr. Anne Peters, Rinehart’s endocrinologist, said smartphone technology can be a nice tool but isn’t the answer for everyone with diabetes.

“The problem with a new toy is that people use it a lot at first but then get tired of it,” she said. “Creating lasting behavior change is difficult, no matter how it is done.”

Therefore, the key, Peters said, is for people to keep up the habit of monitoring their blood sugar and carb intake whether it is on paper or smartphone.

“The problem with all of these programs is that they depend on the person with diabetes to engage the system. The people who need help the most often don’t tend to engage,” Peters said.

The Real Impact

According to the Centers for Disease Control’s 2017 Diabetes Report Card, the percentage of adults with diabetes increases with age, reaching 26.8% among those 65 and over.

On a related note, those same people are less likely to own smartphones than younger generations.

On the other hand, according to a Pew Research Center report on technology usage among the elderly from 2017, four in 10 seniors owned smartphones, more than double the share that did so in 2013. However, the number is still much lower than younger people like Rinehart, who said she is thankful to have the ability to use this technology in her own life.

“The devices and apps make me feel like I can take on every day with more confidence,” she said, “and I actually forget from time to time that I even have diabetes thanks to the peace of mind that technology gives me. Until there’s a real cure, I’m so glad to at least have that.”

Apps Mentioned in Article

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People With Diabetes Can Use Apps to Help Find a Path That Works