What is Continuous Glucose Monitoring?

May 03,2019 |

Living with Diabetes: How to Test Your Blood Sugar

If you’re living with diabetes, you know how important testing your blood glucose (sugar) level is. Blood sugar levels regulate how you manage your diabetes, when you administer insulin, and what foods to consume or avoid. Without testing blood glucose levels, your blood sugar can rise and lead to serious health problems, both short and long-term. While there are a number of physical signs that your blood sugar is high—blurred vision, fatigue, shortness of breath, dry mouth, stomach pain, etc.1—you need to rely on more concrete information. That’s where blood glucose testing comes into play.

Blood glucose testing involves the self-monitoring of your body’s blood sugar levels so you can better manage your diabetes independently. When you regularly test your blood sugar, you’ll get more information on how certain foods affect your sugar levels, how your diabetic medications are working, and whether or not you’re reaching your target numbers.2

Depending on the severity of your diabetes and the instructions from your doctor-recommended treatment plan, you’ll need to test your blood sugar anywhere from four to ten times a day.2 This can be inconvenient, especially for people living a busy lifestyle. 

That’s where continuous glucose monitoring comes in.

What is Continuous Glucose Monitoring?

Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) is a revolutionary way to track your blood sugar levels throughout the day without having to perform a finger-stick. Using a sensor that’s inserted under the skin, continuous glucose monitoring devices measure your blood sugar regularly, and automatically, throughout the day and night.2 Regardless of the time, CGM devices will continue to work, tracking your blood sugar levels and giving you comprehensive information to use for your diabetes management.

Continuous glucose monitoring helps create more dynamic data-flow, which can give you insight into how your lifestyle choices affect your blood sugar levels. It gives you a stronger understanding of your glucose levels, which translates into better control, more informed decisions, and easier daily management.

How Does Continuous Glucose Monitoring Work? 

Continuous glucose monitoring works both in real-time and over longer periods of time so you know what your blood sugar is and how it’s fluctuating. Unlike other devices where you have to prick your finger with the lancet and put a drop of blood on the meter’s test strip, CGM devices are inserted under your skin, usually near your stomach or in your arm, and measure blood sugar automatically. The sensor strip measures your interstitial glucose levels every few minutes and then sends the information to a monitor via a transmitter.3 Depending on the style of the CGM device you choose, the monitor for information to be transmitted to can be in the form of a completely separate device, an insulin pump, or even your smartphone.

How Much Does Continuous Glucose Monitoring Cost?

Regardless of if you use manual testing methods or continuous glucose monitoring devices, blood glucose testing costs money. While most insurance policies cover most, if not all, of the price, out-of-pocket costs can still add up. Due to the convenience, consistency, and all-around technology of CGM devices, they are more costly. Continuous glucose monitoring devices are extremely cost effective and efficient and are worth the price difference in the long run. Talk to your doctor today to see if your insurance covers your CGM device.

Benefits of Continuous Glucose Monitoring Devices 

Arguably, one of the primary benefits of using a continuous glucose monitor is the convenience. You don’t have to stop what you’re doing to prick your finger and test your blood sugar. Instead, it’s continually transmitted to your chosen device and recorded in an easy to understand chart. This helps you further understand how your lifestyle choices and diet affect your blood sugar.

By looking at your readings, you can see how a certain food caused your blood sugar to dip or rise, how your body responded to exercise, and what happens to your glucose levels when you’re feeling under the weather. This translates to better daily management and more informed decisions.

Since CGM devices give you reading every few minutes, you’ll get about 250-288 readings throughout the course of the day. This allows you to better understand your body and make informed decisions. Some of the primary benefits aside from convenience include A1C reduction, reduced hypoglycemia, regular notifications, fewer emergencies, nightly monitoring, and overall insight.

Reduced A1C Levels

The A1C test measures your average blood sugar levels over the course of 2-3 months.4 When using a CGM device, many people reduce their overall A1C levels. This is due to the increase in quality of management that CGM devices provide and a more thorough overall long-term reading. High A1C levels are associated with poor control and more complications so reducing them shows strong diabetic management and self-care while keeping you safe from any serious complications.

Reduced Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia is when your blood sugar dips too low. It’s dangerous when your body is in this state for too long, and can lead to unconsciousness, confusion, and even seizures.5 Managing your blood glucose levels with a continuous glucose monitoring device has been shown to reduce the time your body spends in a hypoglycemic state.

Regular Notifications

CGM devices give you regular notifications about your blood sugar levels so you can stay in control. If your blood sugar regularly dips or rises at specific times throughout the day, your CGM uses predictive behavior to alert you of oncoming lows and highs.

Fewer Emergencies

With increased notifications, you’ll experience fewer blood sugar related emergencies. This is huge for diabetics, as blood sugar emergencies can be life threatening. The use of a continuous glucose monitoring device will help you mange your condition so you don’t have to worry about going into diabetic shock.

Is CGM Right for You?

Not all diabetic patients will benefit from using continuous glucose monitoring devices. Currently, CGM devices are only manufactured for type 1 diabetes self-care and management. If you have type 2 diabetes, you’ll need to continue using the finger-stick method until more research is completed. If you have type 1 diabetes and are interested in getting a CGM device, you need to talk to your doctor, as they are only available with a prescription.

Some of the best, most commonly used continuous glucose monitoring devices include the following:

  • Abbott FreeStyle Libre CGM Systems
  • DexCom CGM Systems
  • Eversense CGM Systems
  • Medtronic CGM Systems

While a CGM is a great way to take back control of your life, remember that you may still need to check your blood sugar with finger-sticks to make sure that your device is calibrated and working properly. You’ll need to replace the sensor according to manufacturer instructions and always follow your treatment plan. Read all instructions in the user guide thoroughly and don’t skip calibrations. 

If you’re unsure of whether or not a CGM is right for you, talk to your doctor today.

Conclusion

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition that requires everyday management. Sometimes, testing your blood sugar levels can seem tedious, but remember that you’re doing it to stay healthy and safe. If you’re interested in switching to a continuous glucose monitoring device, talk to your doctor today. Everyone is different and a CGM might not be right for you. If your doctor decides that a CGM will benefit you, Byram Healthcare has you covered. We’re proud to provide you with the latest technology in diabetes management, including continuous glucose monitoring. We’ll work with your insurance provider and doctor to ensure you’re supported from start to finish, maximizing your coverage while minimizing out-of-pocket expenses. For more information and added support on diabetes management, sign up for Byram Healthcare’s Caring Touch At Home Program. We focus on providing exceptional customer service and top-of-the-line brand name products while lowering your overhead costs. The Caring Touch At Home Program combines convenience, affordability, and choice to deliver extensive service and support to everyone living with diabetes. 

For added support, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Byram’s Diabetes Center of Excellence—a one source, total solution for diabetes care. Our Center of Excellence combines high quality products with clinical and educational research to help you better manage your condition, support all of your needs, and live a long, healthy life. Browse our products, find resources, and learn more about our Caring Touch At Home™ Program today.

 

Sources:

1https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetic-coma/symptoms-causes/syc-20371475

2https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/in-depth/blood-sugar/art-20046628

3https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/managing-diabetes/continuous-glucose-monitoring

4https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/a1c-test/about/pac-20384643

5https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hypoglycemia/symptoms-causes/syc-20373685

 

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