HCA image for blood sugar testing If you have diabetes, you are not alone. There are many Americans who have either type 1 (insulin-dependent) or type 2 (non-insulin dependent) diabetes. Effective treatment requires vigilant monitoring to keep glucose levels in a healthy range. Chronically elevated glucose in the blood can lead to serious eye, kidney, heart, and nerve disease. Fortunately, there are technologies that offer convenient ways to manage the disease and prevent complications.

The standard way of measuring blood glucose involves taking a blood sample from your fingertip and using a meter to check your glucose levels. But there are advanced systems, called continuous glucose monitors (CGM), that offer more convenience and less pain. With a CGM, you place a tiny sensor under your skin. This sensor, which needs to be replaced every few days, measures glucose levels and sends the information to a wireless device that you wear. You can program the monitor; for example, it can take measurements every five minutes and sound an alarm if your levels become too high or too low. This device works around the clock.

Depending on the product, the information stored on the device can be downloaded to your computer. Special software allows you to track your levels and identify trends, providing important data to share with your doctor. Additionally, some devices allow you to press a button to record events, like when you give yourself an insulin shot, have a meal, or exercise. This information gets captured, as well, to create a picture of your diabetes management.

The downside of CGMs is that they may not be as accurate as the standard meters and finger prick samples. However, as technology advances, so do CGMs. Real time alarms, accuracy, and reliability help users maintain better glucose control while avoiding pitfalls like hypoglycemia.

Researchers are constantly working on new treatments, some of which have already been used successfully by people with diabetes throughout the world. Of course, the ultimate solution for people who are insulin-dependent would be to enable the body to make its own insulin again. Better methods for transplanting healthy islet cells (insulin producers of the pancreas) or coaxing stem (embryonic) cells to produce insulin may one day offer a cure for diabetes. Even without a cure, today's products have brought diabetes management a long way since the discovery of insulin in 1921.