US FDA cautions against blood sugar-measuring smartphones: Why finger pricks are best

If you are a person who lives with diabetes, you should not be fooled by the promises that future smartwatches that are now being created by tech companies can replace needles and test and monitor blood glucose continually by sitting on the skin.

The Food and Drug Administration . warning to consumers about the use of smart watches and smart rings. This comes at a time when both Apple and Google are working on developing technologies that would allow diabetic patients to assess their blood sugar levels without having to prick their finger.

The FDA warned that those technologies can “lead to errors in diabetes management,” including incorrect insulin doses or the use of medication that can rapidly lower blood sugar to dangerous levels, increasing the risk of coma, mental confusion, or death “within hours of the error.”

The government agency made it clear that the gadgets it is warning about are not the same as smart watches, which just display data from independent glucose monitoring programs.

According to Dr. V. Mohan, Chairman of the Diabetes Specialities Centre in Chennai, initiatives to build non-invasive glucose monitors have been attempted in the past and have been unsuccessful on several occasions. "In the last several years, a firm known as Cygnus had introduced a product known as GlucoWatch, which was designed to monitor the levels of glucose in the blood without causing any discomfort to the user.

A modest electrical charge entering the wrist brought glucose to the skin surface for 10-minute measurements. He claims reverse iontophoresis employs electrical current to remove ions or other compounds from the skin using the electric field force.

Users complained about accuracy and skin discomfort, therefore the gadget was withdrawn in 2007. A few years ago, Dr. Mohan tested similar devices.

Unapproved blood glucose measuring equipment might force diabetics to use the wrong insulin or other blood glucose-lowering medicine. For instance, if your gadget reads high blood sugar when it doesn't and you take insulin. It may severely reduce blood sugar, increasing hypoglycaemia risk. This might cause mental confusion, coma, or death within hours. Similarly, if the gadget says you have low sugar levels when they're not, you'll have extra carbs and a high sugar spike, says Dr. Mohan.

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