Diabetes is a severe condition, and managing it can be challenging. Properly managing your diabetes requires taking the time to administer the appropriate medications and monitoring your blood sugar levels regularly, and paying attention to detail. It’s also essential to incorporate a healthy lifestyle into your life. There’s a lot to keep up with managing diabetes.
Then there’s the patch. Technology now gives us another way to make managing diabetes a little easier. Thanks to the diabetes patch, managing diabetes is now a total game-changer for people living with diabetes.
- What Are Diabetes Patches?
- FDA-Approved Devices
- Non-FDA Approved Methods
What Are Diabetes Patches?
Diabetes patches are designed to deliver insulin through the skin. That negates the need to have to give yourself insulin shots. Patches are also designed to keep tabs on your blood glucose levels.
When you have diabetes, your blood sugar is consistently high, and over time this can worsen to cause you to have other medical conditions.
Understanding Blood Glucose Levels
If you’re wondering what makes an average blood sugar level, it depends on some things. Blood sugar levels can quickly change after a meal. An intermediate blood sugar level is less than 100 mg/dL after not eating for approximately eight hours and 140 mg/dL after two hours of eating. Glucose levels are typically at their lowest right before meals. For people without diabetes, this would be like 70 to 80 mg/dL. Even a low sugar level varies. Many people won’t have a glucose level lower than 60.
Any sugar levels higher than average are unhealthy. Levels higher than usual but not reaching the point of full-blown diabetes are called prediabetes. 86 million people in America. have prediabetes, which eventually leads to diabetes (if you don’t make healthy lifestyle changes). It can also raise the risk for heart disease (although not as much as diabetes). It’s possible to keep prediabetes from becoming full-blown diabetes with diet and exercise.
Diabetes patches are a proven way to help maintain control over your glucose levels. However, not all patches work the same. Some are approved by the Food and Drug Administration, which means they’ve gone through the appropriate tests and found them safe to use. Other patches have not gone through such processes. Let’s look a little deeper into the many diabetes patches to help you determine which one would be best for you.
Continuous Glucose Monitoring Systems
Continuous glucose monitoring systems are also known as CGMs. With a CGM, adhesive backing is placed on your body to monitor blood glucose levels in interstitial fluid constantly. This is good news for a couple of reasons: it saves you from having to do numerous finger sticks throughout the day, and you’re able to get a perfect picture of blood sugars since it samples every few minutes. That’s like checking your blood sugar level nearly 300 times a day. Only doctors could see blood sugar readings CGM systems collected in the past. Today, you can also see these readings. With your doctor, you can more easily make informed decisions about your diabetes management. You can make decisions together around insulin intake (and types), an exercise plan catered for you, and a caloric daily intact and adding any other additional factors that would benefit the cause.
FDA-Approved CGMs are:
– Dexcom. Dexcom is available in the U.S. for people two years and older who have diabetes. The adhesive backing is placed on the abdomen for ten days. A transmitter clicks into a plastic saddle to send data to a receiver or your phone. When the ten days are up, you remove the adhesive and replace it with a new one. The transmitter is reused each time.
– Freestyle Libre. There are two versions of Freestyle Libre. The Freestyle Libre 2 is approved for kids four years and older; the Freestyle Libre 14-day CGM is available for all people with diabetes. Like Dexcom, the device is placed on the body and removed after a certain number of days. The Freestyle Libre should be placed on the back of the upper arm and released every 14 days. A glucose reading is displayed every minute.
– The Guardian Connect System. This system patch is worn on the stomach or arm and is changed every seven days. The Guardian Connect System is only recommended for people 14 years to 75 years old who have diabetes.
Continuous Subcutaneous Insulin Infusion
Insulin patch pumps replace multiple insulin infections for meals over days. Basal rates can introduce a constant baseline flow of insulin and are a significant player in glucose management with this technology. Basal rate brings blood glucose management close to the natural, non-diabetes state. The technology has also advanced the administration of the pump and CGM communication. All insulin is infused beneath the skin and secured with a patch. There are currently five FDA-approved insulin pumps:
– OmniPod Insulin Management System. This FDA-approved system delivers insulin directly from a patch with no tubing. The OmniPod can be programmed for individualized basal rates, has a bolus calculator, and stores insulin delivery data. Each pod expires after three days. Although it was designed for people with type 1 diabetes, it can also be used by people with type 2 diabetes.
– V-Go. V-Go is designed for adults with type 2 diabetes who require insulin. The disposable device delivers a continuous, subcutaneous infusion of rapid-acting insulin. After applying the patch, you can quickly press a button to insert the delivery needle. Meal-time insulin or insulin doses to correct out-of-target blood sugar levels are initiated when you press a button on the device. The strong adhesive sticks to the skin for 24 hours, even if it’s wet. It comes in different prescription levels — V-Go 20, V-Go 30, V-Go 40 — that refer to the amount of insulin delivered at a continuous preset basal insulin rate over 24 hours. The device is discarded after being worn for 24 hours.
– Tandem and Medtronic connect an electronic control and insulin reservoir device to the infusion set with tubing. Both pumps have options for communicating with a CGM.
– CeQur Simplicity. CeQur Simplicity is a three-day insulin patch that uses rapid-acting insulin. It’s designed for people with type 2 diabetes and holds up to 200 units of insulin. This can be used to correct an above-target blood sugar or for mealtime insulin dosing. You can do this by squeezing the button on the side of the patch to administer. Each squeeze delivers two units of insulin.
Accessory CGM or Insulin Pump Patches
Accessory patches are used with CGMs or insulin pumps as an adhesive overlay to keep the patches from peeling away from the skin. They provide extra protection for the skin and help keep the patches attached for the time needed. Microneedle-Array Patches are currently being tested but show much promise. Herbal patches are also available but are not FDA-approved.
Non-FDA Approved Methods
Herbal, Over-The-Counter Patches
Over-the-counter drugs and medications are much easier to come by, and you don’t have to get approval from your health care provider to use them. But just because something’s more readily available and sold at the pharmacy doesn’t make it safe. That said, there are some diabetes patches available without a prescription. However, these patches are not FDA-approved. That means they haven’t gone through sufficient testing to authorize the federal government to say they are safe to use, so beware.
Chinese Herbal Medicine
This treatment is used frequently in China by people with diabetes. Studies analyzed results from 38 different Chinese herbal remedies, but there is no conclusive evidence of their effectiveness.
Experimental Insulin Patches
Much research is underway on effective ways to deliver insulin through a patch without using any other device. Although the little research underway seems promising in animals, there is still much more needed to determine the effectiveness in humans.
No Standalone Skin Patches Treat Diabetes
At the current time, there is no prescription patch or non-prescription patch that you can wear on your body to control diabetes. Patches that are being used are used with other devices.
Your doctor may suspect you have diabetes if you have some risk factors for diabetes or high blood sugar levels in your urine. Your blood sugar levels may be increased if your pancreas is producing little or no insulin. That is a sign of type 1 diabetes. Your body not responding normally to insulin is a sign of type 2 diabetes.
Should you have to live with diabetes, it’s essential to understand it, and managing it is the key to staying well. Managing diabetes can be overwhelming, but there are many ways to do it. Among them are eating healthy, being active, taking your medication, and monitoring your blood sugar. The technology of diabetes patches has revolutionized diabetes management by making it so much easier to do.