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Continuous Glucose Monitoring

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Topic Overview

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What are the benefits?

A CGM is constantly measuring your blood sugar. This information helps some people who have diabetes make decisions about what to eat, how to exercise, and how much medicine to take. Using a CGM has been shown to give people with type 1 diabetes better control of their blood sugar levels, with fewer low blood sugar emergencies.

The alarm feature of a CGM can be set to alert you if your blood sugar is quickly going up or down, or if you have a blood sugar level out of your target range. This is helpful for people who have problems knowing when they have low blood sugar (hypoglycemic unawareness). Parents, partners, or caregivers can be alerted when your blood sugar is dropping quickly while you are asleep.

CGMs also work with some glucose meters and some work with insulin pumps.

What are the drawbacks?

  • A continuous glucose monitoring system is expensive, and your insurance may not cover the cost. If your insurance does cover the cost, you may have to do some work to get the coverage. You may have to submit records showing how often you took blood sugar readings over a period of time, perhaps a month, and what those readings were. Ask your insurer ahead of time what is covered and what you will need to do to get that coverage.
  • Sensors last just a few days. You must insert a new one every 3 to 7 days, depending on the type.
  • CGMs don't replace finger pricks. You'll still need to prick your finger at least once or twice a day to confirm the CGM's accuracy.

Who is most likely to be successful using this device?

You're most likely to be successful with a CGM if:

  • You are committed to keeping your blood sugar under control.
  • You're willing to learn how to use the CGM.
  • You realize that finger pricks and continuing to use your standard glucose meter are still very important.
  • The idea of having the sensor attached to your body throughout the day and night doesn't bother you.
  • You see well enough to read the monitor and you hear well enough to hear the alarms.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 26, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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