Did you know insulin was discovered in 1921 in Canada? This year marks its 100th anniversary. In the past, people with diabetes didn’t exactly live for long. Unfortunately, doctors couldn’t do much to help patients at the time. Back then, the most effective treatment was to keep a healthy body through strict diets and minimal carbohydrate intake.
A hundred years later, science has come far in managing diabetes. Through devices and advanced medicines, people now have a better shot at a longer life. If you’re wondering which devices changed how people treated diabetes over the last century, keep reading below to find out.
1. Insulin Pumps
Insulin pumps are small, digital devices that imitate how the human pancreas works. Based on an article published in June 2020 in the journal Diabetes Therapy, the first model appeared on the market in 1974.
For people with type 1 diabetes, the insulin pump is a marvellous invention as it has become an alternative to daily self-injection. Patients can wear the device in numerous ways; over the waist, in their pocket, as an armband, or stuck to a belt. Depending on the function, the pump may constantly deliver insulin throughout the body or only during mealtime.
2. Continuous Glucose Monitors
The function of the continuous glucose monitor (CGM) is to track blood glucose levels throughout the day and night. Through a tiny sensor placed below the skin’s surface, the device doesn’t need a drop of blood to check the current blood sugar level. Because of CGM, doctors can monitor and observe patterns and trends that may help fine-tune a treatment plan for every patient.
The first CGM was available around 1999 as a device provided by doctors for two weeks or fewer. Later on, the machines were deemed accurate and made more widely known for home use. Recently, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first plantable CGM device, which patients, especially those with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, can wear for up to three months without needing to change the sensor.
3. Connected CGM-Insulin Pumps
Another device became recently available for people with diabetes. The CGM-insulin pump combines the power of an insulin pump and the tracking abilities of a CGM. In June 2020, the FDA allowed an integrated CGM, linking it to other diabetes management devices like insulin pumps and blood glucose monitors.
The complicated yet straightforward move may help patients manage their diabetes by reducing blood sugar and minimizing the times they can experience unsafe and unhealthy blood sugar levels.
4. Diabetes Medications
Since insulin’s discovery in 1921, people with diabetes have acquired better chances of a longer life expectancy as different medications can target more specific diabetes issues.
Often, Metformin is the first medication doctors prescribe for patients with type 2 diabetes. It belongs to the class of medicine called biguanides, which decreases glucose absorption from food and decreases liver production of insulin. Aside from Metformin, other medications are available in the market for diabetes, including oral drugs and non-insulin injectables like sodium-glucose cotransporter-2, glucagon, and more.
5. Insulin Innovations
Insulin now comes in a variety of forms, including rapid-acting, long-lasting, and premixed formulas. Before, healthcare providers could only deliver it via syringes. But today, pumps and pens also make up the list of tools for administering insulin effectively.
There are still more innovations to come. For example, insulin pens can now remember the last dose and the time a patient receives the dosage. It is a helpful feature for busy people or those who often forget to take their medicine. Smart insulin pens may have fewer features than insulin pumps, but they cost less, and you don’t have to attach them to your body.
The battle for diabetes still stands. However, as the world advances in technology, society finds better ways to fight the disease to ensure people continue to live long. Of course, everyone shouldn’t only depend on the devices alone. Patients with diabetes would still have to live a healthy lifestyle, which consists of eating well, maintaining an ideal weight, and preparing for other conditions that may arise in the future. If you have any questions or would like to discuss how we can help you, contact a member of our wellness team today to discuss your customized health plan.