OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Diabetes numbers in Mississippi are some of the highest in the country, and they continue to grow.
Fortunately, new technology is helping patients live healthier lives. The sensor technology is giving patients better health, new freedom, and less pain.
It's a glucose monitoring system for insulin dependent diabetics that allows you to check your blood sugar levels 24 hours a day with a scanner, rather than a finger stick.
Forty-four year old Kevin Harris from Biloxi knows that regular medical appointments are crucial to his diabetes care. "You have to be careful. If you don't monitor your health it doesn't matter how careful you are something is gonna happen," said Harris.
That care is getting easier and less painful thanks to a device he started using six months ago. He said, "Once I got this new monitoring system it's a piece of cake because I don't have to check my blood anymore unless I feel it's off a bit."
This life changing device is the FreeStyle Libre blood glucose system that monitors glucose readings day and night.
It has almost eliminated the multiple daily finger sticks Kevin has endured since he was diagnosed five years ago. "The finger sticks are two to three times a week now and it used to be four or five times a day." Kevin says it has made his life and job as a sales manager much easier. He described, "I don't have to stop what I'm doing now and find a place to prick my finger. I just swipe and go and get on with my now normal life."
Adult nurse practitioner KC Arnold with the Diabetes Center in Ocean Springs says it's a major breakthrough in diabetes care. "I've actually had patients cry in my office because it's taking that burden away of routine finger sticks that has been a huge issue for people with type one and type two diabetes," Arnold explained.
The small monitoring device is administered just under the skin quickly by the patient every ten days. It's easy to use the scanner to collect information, which helps patients follow patterns and trends to manage their diabetes and prevent dangerous complications.
Arnold says, "They're going to be less likely to get complications from kidney damage, eye damage, and cardiovascular disease; which is probably the biggest killer in patients with diabetes."
Kevin says it has been a game changer for him that also gives him peace of mind. "It makes me smile to know that I don't have to do a lot of the things I had to do. I just enjoy myself keep going," he stated.
Arnold says most insurance companies cover the device and it is now also covered by Medicare for those who qualify.