About Continuous Glucose Monitors
“A sensor can save your life in the event of a low blood sugar.”
WHAT DO CGMs DO FOR ME?
Checking on the go
With one look you can see what your sugar is doing--and where it’s headed.
Prevent lows and highs!
Set alerts so you’re instantly aware if you’re going too high or too low.
See glucose levels on your phone or receiver so you can walk the dog that extra mile, go sailing, or sing in a choir.
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WHAT ARE CGMs?
Continuous Glucose Monitors (or CGMs) are small devices that have a tiny hair like wire that goes under the skin. Many people with diabetes refer to a CGM as a ‘sensor’ because it’s sensing the glucose in your body. Sensors show your current sugar level and how it’s changing - whether it’s staying the same, going high, or going low. You can also set alarms if you want. Most CGMs come with automatic inserters that make it easy, and virtually pain-free, to put it in place on your own.
Abbott Freestyle Libre
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How is a CGM different than a blood sugar meter?
You will know your sugar level and where it is headed.
A blood glucose meter shows your sugar level right now, but does not tell you if it’s about to change. A CGM shows if your sugar is about to change and this keeps you safe from going too high or too low. This can also help when you exercise or eat - because you will be ready with a CGM!
“These devices save lives and as horrible as I find it being constantly tethered, it has saved me from overnight lows, prolonged highs, and has helped me stay active with very little risk and fewer finger sticks. (I still finger stick a lot).”
How does a CGM attach to my body?
Push a button and the CGM is in place.
Each type of CGM comes with a special inserter. You push a button or squeeze the inserter, and a small needle inserts the CGM’s tiny sensing wire under your skin. The needle comes out and the tiny wire stays in. Some CGM types are approved by the Food and Drug Administration to be inserted in the abdomen or upper arms, but many people have tried them all over the body with success.
“I used to use my stomach for my continuous glucose monitor. Now, I use my forearms, and I like the profile when I wear clothes because I don't have this weird bulky thing on my stomach. it's more out of the way. “
How does it actually work?
Magic! Just kidding - amazing technology.
CGMs are small devices that work by inserting a tiny wire under the skin and an adhesive patch holds the external transmitter in place. The tiny wire is less than 1/2 long, and you can’t feel it once it is in place. A small transmitter connects to the wire and sends real-time data to the a receiver. Many people use their cell phone to receive the data using an app.
How much will it cost? Does my insurance cover it?
Cost depends on insurance, and it’s worth knowing.
All of us with diabetes wish it wasn’t so expensive to take care of diabetes. Some sensors are cheaper than others, and more insurance companies are covering them. Planning and knowing the cost can help make decisions about whether it is possible to get a sensor.
“This is not the equivalent of buying the next best phone. This is medical care. for me, it's a no-brainer to spend more on supplies if it means I'm going to be healthier in the long run.”
Do I still need to prick my finger?
Most of the CGM systems no longer require fingersticks!
Both fingersticks and CGMs show your sugar levels, but a CGM gives you more information and is easier to use. Plus, most CGM systems replace fingersticks which means you don’t have to check on a meter anymore. You can still do fingersticks if you want, but using a CGM means you do not HAVE to do fingersticks.
“Trust but verify, that's my advice. I still don't trust my sensor completely. I still verify with a test. I have a friend who trusts her sensor 100% but doesn't trust her meter at all. ”
Which one is right for me?
The CGM that is right for you depends on where you want to put it on your body, whether you want alerts when you are going too low or too high, and whether you want it to communicate with an insulin pump. It also might depend on which one is covered by your insurance. If you do not feel your lows or want an alert that tells you when you’re low (or will be soon), then choose one with alerts (Dexcom or Medtronic). If you do not need alerts and can feel your lows, try the Abbott Libre. Our device comparison and check-up questions can help you decide what is right for you.
How do you see the numbers? What do I do with the data?
You’ve got options!
All CGM systems make it easy to stay connected to your glucose levels. If you have a smartphone, you can use an app. If you’re not using a smartphone, you can carry around a small device called a receiver. All CGM systems also make it easy to see reports on your glucose - like your average sugar at night - through an app on your computer. You can even send reports to your doctor.
WISDOM FROM OTHERS WHO USE CGMs
Two of the three sensors available don’t require finger sticks! You still want to have a meter with you, in case, but you won’t need it hardly as much.
Prevent lows and highs before they happen
A CGM shows you which direction your blood sugar is headed and how fast. Some types will alarm during the day or night to help alert you when you have a low or high blood sugar.
Notice patterns and learn
Having sensor data gives you the ability to see patterns that happen over time. You can look at it with your doctor or adjust insulin, food and exercise routines.
Some people get overwhelmed with too many alerts sounding from their devices. You can tailor them to fit your needs and wants, or turn them off entirely (except the emergency low alarm).
Attachment to devices
Wearing a CGM means you will have a device on your body at all times. They’re all waterproof and very durable. Some CGMs have receivers, and others can be linked to a smartphone, which can reduce the number of devices you have to carry!
The work required to maintain a sensor day-to-day is a lot less hassle and pain than checking with a meter.
Most CGM systems don’t require you to do fingersticks. If you have a CGM that does, you will need to check your blood sugar and enter the number into the sensor.
It is best to do in the morning or when your blood sugar is not rising or falling quickly.
This is something you have to do every week, 10 days, or 2 weeks depending on your CGM system. There are also some tips and tricks that might help them last even longer.
Order new Sensor Pack
The number of sensors you receive will depend on your CGM system and insurance coverage. But remember, if one rips off or gets damaged before it is supposed to be done, call to get a replacement.
Order new Transmitter
The transmitter runs out of battery after a certain amount of time.