Executive Director, Federal Affairs, Diabetes Canada
The right technology can help people with diabetes better manage their disease and increase their quality of life.
It might surprise you to learn that an estimated five million Canadians have diabetes, with another six million Canadians estimated to be prediabetic. While the disease has many different symptoms and possible risks, there’s one immutable fact: successful treatment of diabetes requires dedicated self-management.
“With diabetes, it’s vital to accurately monitor blood sugar levels,” explains Kim Hanson, Executive Director of Federal Affairs at Diabetes Canada. “When a person has diabetes, it’s more likely that their blood sugar is elevated beyond the target level. And when blood sugar is elevated, it causes a strain on all of your organs and it can impair your circulation and make it harder for your kidneys to do their job. It can also increase the likelihood that you might experience heart disease, a stroke, vision loss, or reduced circulation to the extremities, which can result in an amputation. It’s critically important that people with diabetes manage their blood sugar to reduce the likelihood that they’re going to develop any of these complications.”
Technology has really blossomed and become a massive game-changer for people with diabetes.Kim Hanson, Executive Director of Federal Affairs at Diabetes Canada
The ups and downs of blood sugar
Hanson notes that while keeping blood sugar at an appropriate level is central to staying healthy for someone with diabetes, it can be a constant struggle to maintain optimal levels. “Diabetes is a pretty tricky disease,” she says. “It’s ever-changing. And there are a multitude of factors that can influence your blood sugar, such as what you eat, how much you eat, physical activities, stress hormones, wellness, and even the climate. Many things can make your blood sugar susceptible to change, which is why it can be a real challenge on an ongoing basis to appropriately dose insulin to regulate blood sugar.”
Luckily, in the past couple of decades, there has been an array of exciting technological developments that make managing diabetes much easier. “Technology has really blossomed and become a massive game-changer for people with diabetes,” says Hanson, who herself lives with diabetes. “Devices like blood glucose monitors have become much more intuitive and easier to use. A good monitor can be a real lifeline for a diabetic. Some machines even send your blood sugar value to a reader or even to an app on our smartphones, so we have a much clearer picture of our blood sugar patterns. And in some cases, those devices can even warn us when our blood sugar is getting too low or too high.”
Opening the conversation
Of course, not every device is going to be right for every individual living with diabetes. “The first thing people need to do when deciding what technology might be right for them to help manage their diabetes is to speak with a health care professional,” says Hanson. “Your health care team knows the tools out there and can provide you with the best advice about what will likely work best for your needs, your level of health literacy, and your lifestyle.”