A Cardiff University study found that by utilizing apps on their smartphones, individuals with type 2 diabetes can more effectively self-manage their condition.
This comprehensive study concluded that individuals who used an app to track their blood sugar reported lower average blood sugar levels than those who tracked their sugar without an app. (Individuals who used an app also reported an average of 0.5% reduction in A1C levels.)
“With the number of patients with diabetes expected to rise to over 500 million by 2030, there is an urgent need for better self-management tools,” said Dr. Ben Carter of the Cardiff University School of Medicine.
Dr. Carter went on to point out that fitness tracking apps have already been used by millions in pursuit of better health, so why not blood sugar tracking apps?
He then revealed that by 2020 there would be an estimated 5 billion smartphones in operation worldwide, so it makes sense that they would be useful tools in managing our health.
For diabetics in particular, the benefits of using a smartphone app are plentiful.
Monitoring blood sugar is a critical part of managing diabetes. With an app, you could set alerts to remind you to test your blood sugar. You would then enter your results into the app. This way, your results are accessible anywhere, anytime. You can even track your results over weeks or months.
Following a selective diet and knowing how different foods affect blood sugar is also essential. On an app, you could search for recipes, plan your meals, and even create a grocery-shopping list.
The app could reveal more about your eating habits than you may think. As you try different recipes and document your blood sugar results, you may notice patterns start to form. Do certain foods raise your blood sugar? Do certain foods lower it?
This could be an incredibly empowering tool, literally showing you how your body is reacting to the foods you are eating. It can also help keep individuals accountable with their food choices.
Many individuals with diabetes also take medications to assist in managing blood sugar levels. The app can help with this, too. For example, set an alert to remind you when it’s time to take your medication.
Apps also offer a calendar function. Do you have your routine physical coming up? Put it on your schedule in the app and set a reminder for yourself a few days before so you won’t forget.
So, an app could help you track your blood sugar levels, make positive food choices, even remind you to take your medications and attend your appointments.
An app could not only help an individual manage their diabetes at home, but also open new lines of communication between patients and their physicians.
Say a patient goes in for a checkup and when the physician asks how his blood sugar has been doing, he says something along the lines of, “Well… when I check it, it’s usually okay.”
This response does not give the physician any insight into how the patient is managing his blood sugar on a daily basis. With only this information, it would be very difficult to create a realistic plan for the patient.
Next, the physician meets with a patient that has been using an app to manage his diabetes. When the physician asks how his blood sugar has been doing, he can respond with valuable information.
“Well, I’ve been tracking my blood sugar and I have noticed my sugar is high when I wake up, but once I eat breakfast (an omelet with spinach and cheese, and a few apple slices sprinkled with cinnamon) my sugar will stabilize. I then stay steady for the rest of the day.”
Wow, what a difference! Imagine the impact an app could have on the lives of individuals working to manage their diabetes.
By taking into account all of the functions available, it appears as though self-managing diabetes could be just an app away.