As if the recent COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t enough, there are numerous other, constant threats to our health. That’s why living a healthy lifestyle and working on preventing other diseases is essential. But what if you can’t stop it? What if it’s something like diabetes, where your blood sugar levels are inconsistent, varying from dusk to dawn?
Although not even our modern health care can cure diabetes, technological progress, and artificial intelligence have allowed us to control our blood glucose levels better. These technologies come in the form of continuous glucose monitoring and diabetes management, an efficient system looking to completely replace traditional blood glucose testing.
Today, we’ll discuss continuous glucose monitoring (CGM), how it’s changing how we deal with diabetes, its benefits, whether machine learning and AI can help, and what the future holds for these advanced systems.
What is CGM?
To fully understand how continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) differs from traditional blood glucose testing, its effect on diabetes management many benefits, and how the future can improve these devices, we must start from the beginning and explain both traditional blood glucose monitoring and how CGM devices work.
Traditional Blood Glucose Monitoring
Traditional blood glucose testing involves carrying around needle sticks and measuring your blood sugar levels, usually after a meal or if you feel like your blood sugar levels are inadequate. If you’ve ever been close to someone with diabetes, you’ve undoubtedly seen these tiny devices, which usually involve a meter or a reader, needles, and test strips.
When you need to measure your glucose levels or blood sugar, you must take out these devices, prick yourself in the finger, which can cause nerve damage, and wait for the machine to measure your blood sugar.
It’s worth noting that test strips have an expiry date, and once you’re past that date, your meter will likely display errors. You’ll also need new test strips or an entirely new device, as compatibility issues often exist.
Modern CGM Devices
Compared to traditional blood glucose testing involving needle sticks and blood sugar readings, the newer CGM devices are looking to replace humans in blood sugar monitoring in a way that they’re automatic and continually measure your blood sugar levels.
Moreover, with the help of various technological advancements, these devices measure blood glucose in interstitial fluid and don’t require you to constantly stick needles in your fingers, which can cause nerve damage. Some people fear blood, and these devices suit them much better.
They usually involve two small devices: a blood glucose meter and a display connected to an insulin pump, which constantly lets you know your blood sugar levels, and acts upon them accordingly, creating an effective system that’s excellent at measuring blood glucose levels.
When you add that they’re much more accurate, measure your glucose levels throughout the day, and don’t require manual labor, you quickly realize these devices’ potential. Namely, they have a massive role in preventing further diabetes complications.
These CGM devices are much better than traditional human and manual blood glucose measuring precisely because of the abovementioned reasons. And with new technology, artificial intelligence, and smaller-than-ever CGM devices, the future of continuous glucose monitoring.
Who Is a CGM System For?
Now that we know the differences between traditional blood glucose meters and newer CGM devices, we can talk about who they’re intended for and who can benefit the most from these capable devices. Namely, these CGM systems can be helpful for many people with diabetes mellitus.
Type 1 Diabetes
If you’re one of the millions of people with type 1 diabetes, you must constantly monitor your blood sugar levels. The blood glucose target range is between 75 and 125 mg/dL before a meal, and you’ll always strive to be in this target range.
However, it can be incredibly laborious to constantly track these blood glucose levels, prick yourself with needles many times daily, and measure your sugar levels each time you eat anything.
That’s where CGM devices can shine, as they automatically keep track of your blood sugar, immediately notifying you if it’s outside the target range and letting you know you need to use your insulin pump.
Type 2 Diabetes
People with type 2 diabetes have constant problems with hypoglycemia, as they use heavy insulin medication, which can massively drop their blood sugar levels quite suddenly. That increases the chance of an insulin shock or even a coma. Not even an entire healthcare team can help in such a case.
Moreover, type 2 diabetes can lead to various heart and kidney problems and, if left unchecked, can lead to all kinds of diseases, including eye disease. That’s why continuous glucose monitoring benefits such people, as it helps lower the chances of developing other health issues.
It’s arguably one of the cruelest types of diabetes, as it develops during pregnancy. Namely, gestational diabetes can disappear after childbirth, making it the only diabetes type that doesn’t last forever. Therefore, it only affects women.
However, the numbers aren’t looking great, and with half the women developing type 2 diabetes later if they’ve had it during pregnancy, it’s not something to take lightly.
Moreover, since around 5% of all pregnancies develop gestational diabetes, it can be a severe issue as it affects the mother and the baby. That’s why using CGM devices if you notice any diabetes-related symptoms during pregnancy is vital and can even help keep you in the first 50% that don’t develop type 2 diabetes later.
Excellent CGM Devices
Whether you have a genetic predisposition for type 1 diabetes or developed type 2 diabetes later, CGM is a device that massively helps you. Specialists also recommend CGM devices such as Aidex, which reduce the number of tasks you must do when managing insulin. They can effectively show you constant data once you install them, making diabetes management more straightforward.
Benefits of CGM Systems
Modern CGM systems include various benefits to the wearer, making them much more reliable than traditional needle sticks. These benefits include continuous monitoring, improved data accuracy, better quality of life, more straightforward medical treatment, and even machine learning capabilities.
As the name suggests, these devices monitor your blood sugar 24/7, which is much better than only measuring your glucose levels after meals or when you already feel specific low or high blood sugar effects. They provide real-time feedback and are incredibly efficient regarding blood glucose readings.
Measuring blood sugar the traditional way isn’t the most accurate method. Suppose you’re worried about data accuracy to control your sugar levels better. In that case, you’ll need a CGM device, which provides much more accurate data than needle sticks and blood sugar monitors.
Since CGM devices constantly measure your blood sugar levels, they lower the possibility of hypoglycemia, which is incredibly valuable for all people with diabetes. Such a condition was a severe issue in the past because people were using all sorts of insulin medication which weren’t adjusted to their needs, constantly causing massive sugar level drops and shakes.
Higher Quality of Life
As CGM helps medical care specialists take care of their patients and people with diabetes to better control their glucose levels, it’s safe to say that it reduces distress caused by diabetes mellitus. That includes lower stress levels and less anxiety that goes into diabetes management.
People with diabetes that use CGM can live a healthier and happier life, regardless of the fact they have diabetes, and that’s primarily due to these little devices.
Finally, there’s also higher dependability. CGM systems are better since diabetes patients carry them 24/7. That means that someone with diabetes can’t forget their needle sticks and monitoring device at home. They also can’t forget to measure blood sugar levels, and it’s why CGM is so effective in diabetes control.
Disadvantages of CGM Devices
Although many healthcare providers prefer CGM systems in managing diabetes, it’s not all rainbows and sunshine with these CGM devices. Namely, they have certain disadvantages, which need improvement for broader implementation and use. These disadvantages can be reduced to three main ones: price, maintenance, and insertion.
Compared to a traditional blood glucose meter, which often includes pricey test strips when you buy a meter, a CGM device is still more expensive. That’s because you’ll need to purchase the initial device and keep replacing the device’s sensor in 10 to 14 days, which might be pricey.
Moreover, unlike traditional glucose monitors, CGM devices aren’t covered by insurance companies, meaning you’d have to pay for these out of pocket.
Like traditional blood glucose monitoring systems, which require purchasing new test strips occasionally, modern CGM devices also need their sensors replaced once every 10 to 14 days, depending on the brand.
However, these sensors do between 3,000 and 20,000 glucose tests during their lifespan, which means they are much more affordable than traditional ones that involve strips.
Since these devices are with you 24/7, they might be uncomfortable for some people to wear, as they constantly touch the skin. Moreover, they include a different insertion method to track your glucose levels in interstitial fluid, which some users dislike.
What Does the Future Look Like?
Since diabetes is an incurable disease, and data suggests it’ll affect more people in the future, the only thing we can do for now regarding diabetes treatment is to create more useful CGM devices and better monitor our blood sugar.
Moreover, the American Diabetes Association suggests we reduce the intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, referring not just to people with diabetes but to the entire population, as these are incredibly harmful to our health.
They’re reasoning with people to improve their health and include more physical activity in their daily routine. If we don’t do that, no advanced computer system or healthcare team in the world will be able to save us.
Furthermore, there’s also the need to spend more on health care and machine learning, as these two can work together incredibly well, leading us to a better tomorrow with more manageable diseases, better medication, and higher quality of living.
The Future of Diabetes Management
If you have diabetes, the only way to positively affect your condition is by creating a proper diabetes meal plan, reducing the amount of sugar-sweetened beverages in your diet, increasing your physical activity, and taking the necessary health supplements.
Suppose you create a proper diabetes meal plan with whole grains and better food choices. In that case, you’re looking at controllable diabetes, more manageable health care, and reduced risk of hypoglycemia.
Additionally, working shorter work weeks reduces the risk of diabetes impacting your life by a massive margin. You’re doing so by reducing stress and the need for insulin and decreasing the risk associated with the disease, essentially prolonging your life.
The Future of Continuous Glucose Monitoring
When it comes to better-managing diabetes, there’s innovation and progress in how these CGM devices work. Namely, there are constant improvements in device size, maintenance needs, and device efficiency.
Moreover, some newer CGM devices have been recently FDA-approved, and the American diabetes association is looking to employ this technology in the next few years. They’ll improve diabetes treatment, reduce the number of tasks a human needs to do regarding glucose monitoring and help health care better monitor blood sugar.
These newer CGM devices will use long-term sensors implanted in the human instead of dangling on the pants and constantly touching the skin. You won’t need to exchange these sensors every 10 to 14 days, and the American Diabetes Association is already testing these out after the European Union approved them.
Additionally, we’ll soon be able to rely on deep learning technologies and machine learning artificial intelligence. A powerful AI system will be able to help the healthcare team better take care of people with diabetes mellitus.
Such an advanced computer system which utilizes machine learning and can do many calculations, measurements, and operations, will undoubtedly increase the efficiency of diabetes management, as it has all the human knowledge and much more.
Artificial Pancreas Systems
Another thing that the FDA is working on is APS, which stands for artificial pancreas system. These are essentially closed-loop diabetes management systems, which offer continuous glucose monitoring and automatically shoot insulin with a built-in insulin pump if needed.
The system has three parts, functioning like a healthy person’s pancreas. It mimics how our organs, and more precisely, the pancreas, controls blood sugars, efficiently monitoring glucose levels and releasing insulin into the body if the blood sugar levels get too high.
These systems could prove incredibly valuable for people with type 1 diabetes. That’s because it’s precisely type 1 diabetes that causes the pancreas not to produce insulin. It’s the reason why people with type 1 diabetes have to constantly measure their blood sugars and take insulin, either through injections or insulin pumps.
The Role of AI and Machine Learning in CGM
The benefits of technology and innovations have been affecting people worldwide and are changing many aspects of our lives. People tend to look at AI and machine learning in fear, thinking these machine learning applications will take over their jobs and possibly even cause an AI uprising.
However, these AI and machine learning technologies have also given us various incredible benefits in the past few years. Machine learning has shown signs of progress and innovation in health care, data analysis, and various other tasks.
And with improved reasoning and abilities to solve complex problems, who knows what else we can expect in the future?
They’ve predominantly been apparent in recent years with the rise of new and advanced machine learning algorithms and apps such as ChatGPT, Microsoft’s Bing, and Google’s Bard.
And with a much wider range of applications in our daily routine than ever, they stand to make some massive improvements, especially in health care and, more specifically, in diabetes management.
How Artificial Intelligence Can Help with Blood Sugar Levels
With the recent technological advancement in artificial intelligence, AI and machine learning will have a massive impact on health care and medicine, providing numerous benefits to people of all ages.
For example, machine learning algorithms can effectively comb through thousands of terabytes of data, analyzing, comparing, and making the best physical activity plans for people with diabetes.
They’re effective since they use a computer system that can do many more calculations and operations than a human ever could and can include and consider various factors when coming up with a solution.
A machine learning application could easily calculate how sugar-sweetened beverages affect your blood glucose levels and suggest appropriate physical activity. That can counter the effects of a few drinks here and there, and it’s only one of many examples of how machine learning can help in health care and diabetes treatment.
Furthermore, a computer system with machine-learning functionality can adjust precisely to your needs, as not every human will deal with diabetes similarly. That’s why a factory-calibrated CGM system is underway. With machine-learning CGM and sensors that last much longer than current CGM devices, we’re talking about a one-time investment that can help with diabetes management for years.
Diabetes is a chronic condition affecting your organs, leading to various other issues, including eye disease. Since diabetes is untreatable, medical experts are utilizing technology and machine learning while constantly trying to improve how we deal with it.
That’s why CGM devices exist. Such technology will only get better and cheaper in the future, improving the existing benefits and increasing the number of ways CGM systems can help.
The future of continuous glucose monitoring is looking bright, and with newer CGM devices being FDA-approved, the American Diabetes Association is already running tests. If these tests prove successful, they could take diabetes management to the next level.