If you have diabetes, you may have noticed a host of new products and devices, all intended to increase the control of your condition and make life easier for you. Your pharmacist can talk to you about improvements in the diabetes arena and help you choose the blood glucose monitor that is best for you.
New forms of insulin
Years ago, the only insulins were purified from pork insulins. Human insulins became available in the late 1980s. Many patients with diabetes were successfully switched to them because the human insulins cause fewer allergies than the pork insulins do. Like the pork insulins, the human products still required injection 30 minutes before a meal began, so that the insulin would be available when glucose from the meal was absorbed. Further, if the patient injected a dose late in the day, he or she might experience a dip in nighttime glucose (nocturnal hypoglycemia).
In the 1990s, some new insulins began to appear that were designed to help resolve these problems. They were called insulin analogs and were available only by prescription. In order, they were Humalog, Novolog, and Lantus. )Shortly, a new analog called Apidra will become available.) Humalog, Novolog, and Apidra are better than the older insulins because they allow the patient to inject just at the start of the meal or as directed by the physician. Lantus is a long-lasting insulin analog that is injected at night to maintain a more constant insulin level throughout the night, preventing nocturnal hypoglycemia.
While many patients with diabetes have been successfully switched to these newer insulins, it is important to remember that you cannot make any change in your insulin without the advice of your physician. Even changing brands of insulin can require close monitoring to ensure that you maintain full diabetic control. New Blood Glucose Monitors
Older blood glucose monitors require a fairly large drop of blood to render a reliable result. This necessitates a finger stick. The patient with diabetes committed to using tight control to prevent diabetic complications may test blood glucose as many as five times daily. This makes the tips of the fingers quite sore at times, because the fingertips are full of nerve endings that give the sense of touch. Fingertip pain can be serious if the patient has a job or hobby that requires use of the hands, such as music, plumbing, using a computer keyboard, or gardening.
A new generation of blood glucose meters has been developed that requires only a small drop of blood. This allows the diabetic patient to obtain a drop of blood from alternate sites such as the forearm, thigh, or calf. Testing in these areas may be virtually painless, and these sites are seldom used in common jobs and hobbies. Consult your pharmacist about such new meters as TrueTrack Smart System, BD Logic, and FreeStyle Flash.
New insulin dosers
Manufacturers have supplied new insulin dosing devices. The Innolet comes pre-filled with either Novolin N or Novolin 70/30. It is disposable and has a large dial to make it easier to dial your dose. The reusable Innovo accepts cartridges of insulin and also allows you to dial a dose, which can be read on a digital display. When it is opened, the display gives the amount of insulin last injected and the number of hours since that injection. The InDuo is a combined insulin doser and blood glucose meter that may make it easier to travel and keep track of your devices and supplies.