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Updated 09 July 2019

Sweet news for South Africans with diabetes

With the latest developments in glucose monitoring systems, you can say goodbye to routine finger sticks and lancets and hello to a world of digital monitoring from your smartphone. Here’s how.

For millions of South Africans living with diabetes, dealing with a daily finger prick to monitor their blood glucose levels could be at an end*! 

According to The International Diabetes Federation 2017 numbers, diabetes affects over 425 million people worldwide – that equals one in every 11 adults worldwide. Locally, 15.9 million adults in Africa are living with diabetes and this number is estimated to increase to 41.6 million over the next 25 years. 

For people living with diabetes, knowing their blood sugar levels is vital, particularly for those who take certain medication, like insulin or sulphonylureas. Routine glucose checks can help them know when their glucose levels might be starting to go too low (called a hypo) or too high (called a hyper) – which in turn can help inform people living with diabetes of when to take more medication, when to eat something, or for when to get up and move around more. Tracking and knowing their glucose levels will help a person living with diabetes manage their condition and potentially reduce their risk of having serious complications – now and in the future. 

To monitor their glucose levels, people living with diabetes must test their glucose levels several times a day, such as before meals or exercise, at bedtime or before driving. This is usually done by pricking a finger with a lancet to obtain a small amount of blood to test via meters that can tell the current blood glucose amounts. Since blood glucose levels change constantly, people living with diabetes need to test their levels often and keep records of the results. Everyone is different, so people living with diabetes should consult their doctor on when and how often they should be checking their blood glucose. Often an illness, even something simple like a cold or flu, could mean that people living with diabetes need to test their blood glucose more often. 

This continuous testing through finger stick pricks can be painful for some, resulting in less frequent testing and therefore a poorer control of blood glucose levels. 

However, there are now finger stick alternatives that can make the lives of millions easier. Currently, one of the most popular and affordable glucose sensing technologies on the market is the Freestyle Libre Flash Glucose Monitoring System

Developed by Abbott, the FreeStyle Libre Flash Glucose Monitoring System consists of a small, round sensor that is placed on the back of the upper arm and can be worn for up to 14 days. The sensor is approximately the size of a five-Rand coin and it measures glucose every minute in interstitial fluid through a small (5mm long, 0.4mm wide) filament that is inserted just under the skin and held in place with a small adhesive pad.

The device allows patients to monitor their glucose levels continuously and wirelessly – a reader or compatible smartphone is scanned over the sensor to get a glucose result quickly in less than one second. Scanning, using the FreeStyle LibreLink app, can take place while the sensor is under clothing, making testing more discreet and convenient**. This ability to get a reading with a quick, painless scan means a new era of bloodless, simple and visual glycaemic control. 

Each scan displays a real-time glucose result, a historical trend and the direction the glucose is heading through the user-friendly, visual chart generated by the software. This FreeStyle Libre system by Abbott provides people living with diabetes with the ability to have insights into and greater understanding of their condition, by instantly being able to see which foods are affecting their glucose levels, and providing them with the confidence to exercise because, almost immediately, they can see the effect on their glucose graph.

Holding up to 90 days of data it can also help provide doctors with deeper insights to make more informed treatment decisions. Making this potentially life-changing technology for some people living with diabetes who now have the ability to know their glucose levels at all times.

And the remote monitoring functionality through the LibreLinkUp, and authorised app for the caregivers of FreeStyle Libre users, also allows family members, friends, or caregivers to remotely check on their loved one’s glucose levels – a critical improvement for many, especially parents with children living with diabetes. 

Please speak to your doctor or healthcare team before making any changes to your diabetes management. 

*Fingersticks are required for treatment decisions when you see Check Blood Glucose symbol, when symptoms do not match system readings, when you suspect readings may be inaccurate, or when you experience symptoms that may be due to high or low blood glucose.

**Abbott Data on File.

This post is sponsored by Abbott Laboratories SA (Pty) Ltd. produced by BrandStudio24 for Health24.

 
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