Health & Fitness

Monitoring diabetes is hard, but mobile apps make the process easier

Mobile applications now make managing diabetes, tracking conditions and sending information to medical providers easier than ever.
Mobile applications now make managing diabetes, tracking conditions and sending information to medical providers easier than ever. AP File Photo

To say that people have an intimate relationship with their cellphone is an understatement: Phones rest beside us when we sleep, wake us up and even accompany us in the bathroom.

Cellphones — and the apps they host — have become a tool through which people can manage their health, and that rings especially true for the 29.1 million Americans living with diabetes.

When you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use it properly. This causes sugar to build up in your bloodstream, as insulin is the hormone that converts sugar from food to use for energy.

Left unchecked, diabetes can cause serious health complications, including heart disease, blindness, kidney failure and lower-extremity amputations. Diabetes is the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Managing blood sugar levels is critical — that’s where the apps come in.

“I think technology has really helped in terms of management of diabetes,” said Dr. Amy Aronovitz, an endocrinologist with Memorial Healthcare System.

Mobile apps not only allow people to monitor their glucose levels and calorie intake, but also provide data that help health providers assess their patients more accurately and efficiently than ever before.

“You’re really becoming a partner with the patient,” she said. “Instead of either them being at it alone or you dictating what they do in them, you really improve that communication. And it’s always astounding to me when you’re able to make a difference like that.”

Here’s are some apps that Aronovitz and Dr. Janine Sanchez, a pediatric endocrinologist at U-Health, University of Miami Health System, recommend for patients living with diabetes:

For monitoring glucose levels

Dexcom G5 Mobile

If you have the Dexcom G5 Mobile System, this app will continuously monitor your glucose levels and send alerts when your levels are too high or low. You can also share your glucose data with five other people, which is especially helpful for parents who have children with diabetes.

myMedtronic Connect

This app connects with your Medtronic insulin pump and continuously monitors your glucose levels. It can also be used to order supplies, see tips and explanations and set reminders.

Insulin Dose Calculator

The Insulin Dose Calculator uses blood glucose levels, carbohydrate intake and levels of physical activity to calculate insulin dosage amounts.

For tracking calories and carbohydrates

Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker by MyFitnessPal

The MyFitnessPal free food database app helps its users track calories by looking up information on more than 5 million meal and food options. You can also import recipes and scan grocery store barcodes (the app recognizes 4 million) to track nutritional information.

Lose it!

If you like taking pictures of your food, the Lose It! app may be for you. This app allows users to track their eating by searching, scanning or snapping pictures of their food.

School Lunch by Nutrislice

Miami-Dade public school students can find nutritional information by looking up their school lunches on this app. In addition to nutritional details, the app provides the name, photo, description, ingredient list and allergy warnings for students and parents.