Tracking, Learning, Growing: Apps to Help Manage Diabetes

By Janet Jay

There are a dizzying array of apps to choose from when it comes to managing, tracking, and better understanding diabetes and diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN). Here are things to keep in mind when looking for the perfect app.

Logging your food, exercise, and blood sugar

Apps that track calories, exercise, and/or pain can help you visualize and understand your health. There are straight calorie and exercise apps like MyFitnessPal, as well as options like Noom that mix psychology and education with tracking.

Determine whether an app integrates with your technology. An insulin pump or glucose monitor may only work using its company’s app, and many phones or smartwatches have built-in fitness apps. Some apps may be accessible through a code from an employer. Data from finger-stick glucose meters may need to be inputted into apps manually, but their benefits can be huge if you can get into the routine of using them.

Tracking your pain, finding new answers

For those with DPN, a pain tracking app can be a huge help. For example, a graph showing the extent of your pain in a particular body part and its correlation with the weather is far more helpful to a doctor than just saying, “My foot hurts when it rains.”

There are many pain tracking programs, but apps that offer specific options for DPN include Pathways, PainScale, Manage My Pain, and Health Storylines.

A pain tracking app should:

— Track your symptoms as specifically as you’d like
— Customize which symptoms you track
— Pull in related data from wearable tech or possible correlations like the weather
— Offer a wide array of graphing and charting capabilities
— Produce summaries to share with a medical team

Learning about pain and how to treat it

Another category of apps uses scientifically supported treatments to help patients better deal with their pain or actually experience less of it:

— Meditation or relaxation apps, like Headspace, Calm, or Insight Timer
— Apps like Curable that use artificial intelligence chatbots to guide you through research-backed information and programs
— Virtual reality apps like Flowly or XRHealth that create immersive experiences to help rewire how the brain processes pain

Most apps have some combination of features: tracking, data analysis, community, information, programs, and treatments. Consider how you’ll use an app, what it costs, and whether you can trust that your personal information is secure and private.

This field is constantly changing, so try out a few apps and see what works for you. Tracking diet, exercise, and neuropathy symptoms can be invaluable for individuals living with diabetes and their medical teams. It’s also worth exploring the wealth of apps that make coping with neuropathic pain a little easier—or may actually decrease it.