A diabetes diagnosis can change a person’s entire life. It affects everything they do– from how much they move, what they eat, how much they eat, and even what activities they can participate in. In order to avoid life-threatening fluctuations in blood glucose, many people with diabetes must always carry around blood sugar testing supplies and other diabetes treatment tools. However, with new CGM technology, that may finally be changing.

What is CGM?

A CGM is a continuous glucose monitor. It is a small device that can be adhered to the body (usually on the abdomen or the back of the arm) that automatically tracks glucose levels every few minutes.

How Does CGM Work?

A continuous glucose monitor works by measuring the amount of blood sugar in the interstitial fluid. It consists of multiple tiny sensors placed inside the skin attached to a small receiver. That receiver sends information to another small electronic device that displays and tracks your glucose levels. If the user’s glucose levels fall dangerously out of range, an alarm will sound, prompting the user to take action.

It is important to note that interstitial fluid is different than blood sugar, and your readings may vary slightly from a standard blood glucose meter test. In order to ensure that the CGM readings are accurate, even when using a CGM, you should test your blood sugar twice a day using a finger prick or blood sample on a standard blood glucose meter. Remember to compare this reading to the one on your CGM, as they should remain in a similar range at all times. If they are off by a lot, switch back to using your standard blood glucose meter for regular readings until you can correct whatever is causing the discrepancy.

Insulin Pump Compatibility

In some cases, a CGM can also integrate with a touchscreen insulin pump with smartphone styling. This can allow users to become aware of emergencies and make treatment decisions more quickly than with a standard blood glucose monitor.

Benefits of a CGM

There are many benefits to using a continuous glucose monitor:

  • It can give you the freedom to move around and pursue hobbies without having to carry around bulky diabetes testing supplies.
  • It can help you and your doctor record and track your glucose levels, allowing you to make informed decisions about how your diabetes care.
  • A CGM can make diabetes-management easier by guiding everyday treatment like how much insulin to take, when to take insulin, exercise, food intake, and medications.
  • It can also show you trends in your glucose readings over time and help you to avoid potentially dangerous high or low blood sugar events.

Are CGMs Expensive?

Continuous glucose monitors are not always covered by insurance, so they can seem a bit pricey at first glance. However, one study recently found that for many adult patients with Type 1 diabetes, a CGM can be more cost-effective than using standard blood glucose meter test strips regularly.

How to Know if a Continuous Glucose Monitor is Right for You

If you’re interested in learning more about CGMs and which CGM is right for you, speak with your doctor or another member of your diabetes care team. They will be able to better inform you about all of the features available, which devices are best for you, and how you can use a CGM to safely monitor your glucose levels.

SOURCES:

https://www.diabetes.co.uk/cgm/continuous-glucose-monitoring.html

https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/managing-diabetes/continuous-glucose-monitoring

https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/guide/continuous-glucose-monitoring#2

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29650803

https://www.diabetes.co.uk/body/interstitial-fluid.html

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Sara T. Loving

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