Diabetes? We Have Apps for That

High-tech diabetes tools keep coming. Some look extremely helpful. Check out some of these diabetes apps and then tell us about your own.

Dexcom’s G5 Mobile is a continuous glucose monitor that sends glucose readings to your iPhone, iPod, or iPad (with Android-compatible apps to follow early in 2016) every 5 minutes. If you keep the device on hand, you will always know when your glucose is going down or up. You can set high and low glucose alarms on it to make exercising and driving much safer.

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The monitor sensor is inserted into the abdomen (or upper buttocks for children 2–17) and lasts about a week. New ones can be inserted easily. The app comes with instructional videos you can download.

If you already have a Dexcom G4, upgrading to the G5 system will cost $0–$299 depending on the components you own. If you’re starting from scratch, the equipment might be closer to $1,000.

Sensors cost about $90 each, so hopefully you can get insurance to help pay for them. Most users on customer review sites give Dexcom high scores. The main complaint is that the G5 doesn’t connect to the Apple Watch, which the earlier version did.

Dexcom “Follow” and “Share” apps allow you to send your data to doctors or family or to another device. An app called Clarity will show you your average blood glucose, your risk of hypos (lows), and other info.

With a continuous glucose monitor reporting every five minutes, you can learn how different foods affect you, what the best times are to take your medications, and how various exercises and stresses affect your sugar in real time, all without testing.

Other glucose monitoring apps
All of the Dexcom apps depend on having a continuous glucose monitor. If you don’t have a CGM that transmits results, there are meters that do. The Telcare allows health-care providers and designated family and friends to access your data. It creates useful graphs without your having to log anything.

If you don’t have a Telcare meter you can use the free Telcare Diabetes Pal app on iOS or Android devices by manually logging in your test results, your medicine, and food. The app plots the data on a line graph, a pie chart, and a bar graph.

There are many other glucose monitoring apps you can see here.

Self-management apps
The American Association of Diabetes Educators has come out with a free app called Goal Tracker. The My Nutrition section allows you to log what you eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and/or snacks. It will tell you how many calories, carbs, fats, sodium, and other nutrients you have consumed. It keeps records over days, weeks, or months. It has links you can follow for more information about what you are eating and about recommended foods. It also allows you to “create diabetes-friendly recipes and share them with the Goal Tracker community.”

Goal Tracker is available in English and Spanish. It lets you set goals for yourself in any of seven categories:

• Eating healthier
• Increasing your level of physical activity
• Monitoring your blood glucose
• Taking your medications as prescribed
• Learning how to problem solve ordinary and unusual situations
• Reducing your risk for complications
• Coping with emotional issues

For each goal, the app takes you through self-management questions such as, “How will I achieve this? What might get in the way?” and sends reminders to your phone to encourage you to do what you said you would do.

Goal Tracker has an option “for users to share completed goals with one another, providing you a source of inspiration and motivation.” It comes with diabetes information modules that should help you manage. It’s like having a diabetes support group in your phone.

Injection management
ShotPut helps you keep track of insulin injection sites and rotate them. It tells you where you last injected and where to inject next. You can program in your shot schedule and it will notify you when it’s time to inject.

Medications
An app called MedSimple reminds you when to take your medicines, your doses, and frequency. You can put in prescriber and pharmacy information and receive alerts when it is time to refill a prescription. It also includes information on lower-cost alternative prescription drugs, coupons, and patient assistance programs that could save serious money. It can inform you about your drugs and lets you see a list of all your meds in one place.

An app I really like is Charity Miles. With this app, you pick one of nearly twenty charities, click whether you plan to run, walk, or bike, and go. The app tracks your distance, and the Charity Miles team enlists sponsors to reward your chosen charity with a donation for your mileage. Bikers earn up to 10 cents a mile and walkers/runners up to 25 cents a mile for their charity.

Charities include Habitat for Humanity, Feeding America, ASPCA, Wounded Warrior Project, and others you can see here. That’s a pretty cool motivator for exercise.

What diabetes apps do you recommend?

Learned helplessness can make caring for diabetes seem like an impossible task. Drawing on his days as a therapist, Scott Coulter shares tips for digging yourself out of the hole. Bookmark DiabetesSelfManagement.com tune in tomorrow to learn more.