If you happen to be diagnosed with diabetes, you know all too well how taxing it can be having to constantly check on your glucose levels on a daily basis. Then there’s also the worry which stems from wondering whether they are going down or up at any given time of the day.
This is precisely why a CGM, or continuous glucose monitor, might come in handy and make things much easier for you. It’s no surprise that more and more individuals with diabetes have started using CGMs, especially those diagnosed with type I diabetes.
Those with type I diabetes usually use an insulin pump of several injections each day. Such a device would give them an understanding of their blood glucose levels at any given moment. This also includes the direction in which their blood glucose levels are heading.
The concept is a fairly simple one. If one’s blood sugar levels happen to be heading to a dangerously low or high level (hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia), then the CGM will automatically alert its owner with beeps, and they can act accordingly.
Additionally, little arrows can point down or up and indicate the trends in one’s blood glucose readings. Such a device can offer not just you, but your healthcare team as well, a more detailed look at your diabetes. You could say it helps you ‘fine tune’.
This is so useful because you’ll also be able to see how certain foods, drinks, or types of exercise affect your blood glucose levels. What’s more, simply by having this monitor on, one becomes more prone to making the right choices.
How Does It Work?
A small electrode is inserted under your skin to measure the sugar levels in your tissue fluid. This is the glucose sensor. It is connected to a type of transmitter which sends this information through a wireless radio frequency to a display and monitoring device.
This sensor is most often attached to one’s abdomen, and the transmitter is usually placed under one’s clothing, or maybe attached to a belt or inside a pocket. It’s roughly the size of a credit card, only thicker.
Other than those with type I diabetes, another ideal candidate for this type of device is someone whose blood sugar levels are either abnormally high or low, with no other symptoms.
These devices also work great for women who happen to have gestational diabetes, and must keep tight control over their blood glucose levels.
Although the coverage of health insurance for CGMs can vary, they are often covered for those who take insulin or who have too much variability in their blood sugar. Coverage is also usual for children whose blood sugar levels are either too low or too high.
As for the government insurance program for those who are over 65, while it currently does not cover CGMs, many believe it will soon in the future.
There are also CGMs which a doctor can temporarily use on their patients, to see if there needs to be any adjustment in their treatment plan. Indeed, those who use this device have reported a better life quality as well as more easily managed blood sugar.
However, There Are a Few Drawbacks
As helpful as these devices are, experts say one needs to take the following facts into consideration:
- The monitor is on your body 24/7 (unless you choose to remove it), which means there is more to purchase, keep track of, and maintain.
- You’d still need to check on your blood glucose. Just when you’d hoped to say goodbye to those daily pokes, right? This is because the traditional method of checking helps the CGM properly calibrate. This of this device more as an ‘addition’ rather than a complete ‘replacement’.
- It’s an individual thing, but your skin may have an allergic reaction to the device’s adhesives which are there to hold it in place.
- Some users become irritated at the constant beeping, which makes it hard for some to concentrate. Once again, this is rather individual.
- While the monitors also work great on children, you may want to think about the effect it will have on their social life and daily routines.
- Without insurance, these devices are not exactly cheap to maintain. About 400 to 500 dollars a month, in fact.
And remember, this device is only as good as your willingness to take action. If it informs you of your blood sugar levels and yet you don’t act accordingly based on that information, then the device would be useless.
One more thing, your readings may not always be 100% accurate. Certain medications which you may be taking at the time can have an influence on them. So, if you notice that your blood glucose readings are constantly off, best not to rely on them.
You can consult with your healthcare team on how to best manage this device. This is one of those situations where you can use the newest technology to your health’s advantage.
The diabetes experts whose help you’ll seek out can also educate you on how to properly use it to its full potential.
At the end of the day, it is your decision whether or not you’ll opt for this device or stick to the method you’ve been using so far. We hope the information we have given you will make that decision easier for you. Stay mindful and healthy, dear readers.