Continuous Glucose Monitors

AUGUST 22, 2021

Continuous Glucose Monitors

Continuous Glucose Monitors or CGMs are small wearable devices for type-1 and 2 diabetes that provide real-time continuous blood glucose monitoring that automatically tracks blood glucose levels throughout the day and night.

Diabetic patients are asked to regularly monitor their blood glucose levels. Many factors such as food intake, medicine, stress, exercise, and illnesses can affect blood sugar levels. Close monitoring is not only important for assessing sugar control as well as detecting dangerous medical situations, for example, Hypoglycemia. Using a blood glucose meter can be burdensome and painful for some patients who need frequent glucose monitoring as this requires new finger sticks with each blood-sugar measurement.

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CGM systems introduced in the market in the early 2000s, have completely changed how we manage and monitor blood glucose. A CGM System can be extremely helpful and convenient for closely tracking blood sugar in real-time.

How CGMs works

A tiny sensor wire is inserted under the skin, usually on the belly or the upper arms using an adhesive patch that holds it in a place where it measures glucose in interstitial fluid (fluid in-between the cells). A transmitter connected to a wire sends glucose reading wirelessly to a receiver or a monitor. The monitor can be carried in a pocket or a purse. Some CGM Systems send info directly to a compatible smart device, such as smartphones, tablets, or smartwatches. Any device with the system app can serve as a display device, displaying current glucose levels as well as trends in level.

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  • With CGMs, you can track glucose continuously day and night. It records glucose levels as frequently as every five minutes.
  • You can review how your glucose changes throughout the day, and see trends and glucose levels in real-time, which can help you make more informed decisions.
  • It improves and simplifies blood sugar management. You can see the impact of meals, exercise, and medications. You can record your meals, physical activity, and medicine alongside your glucose reading in the CGM device.
  • Considerable reduction in the number of times finger prick is needed to measure capillary blood sugar. The patient can measure the capillary blood sugar only when they experience hypoglycemic episodes or when they want to validate their CGM reading and have fewer low blood glucose emergencies.
  • Can send a custom alert with an alarm if glucose levels go too low.

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  • Translates your glucose reading into dynamic data so you are better able to manage your diabetic treatment.
  • CGM continues recording glucose levels whether you are showering, working, exercising, or sleeping.
  • CGMs replaced manual blood glucose testing and the use of insulin shots. Some models can work with insulin pumps and provide insulin or glucagon automatically.
  • The system can be operated remotely, for example, by a parent, partner, medical staff, or caregiver. For example, if a child’s glucose drops dangerously low overnight, the CGM could be set to wake the parent in the next room.
  • The data can be downloaded into a computer or smart device to see, more easily.

Limits of CGMs

  • They are more expensive than traditional glucose meters, costing around 1000 to 1400 USD.
  • The sensor has to be replaced every 7-14 days depending on the model, in some models, sensors work for 3 months.
  • There is a difference of 20% over or under capillary blood sugar reading is the general standard adopted by manufacturers, so CGM readings have to be confirmed by a glucose meter for a treatment decision. Over the years the technology has greatly improved, and the newest version has greatly improved in accuracy and features.

Who can use CGM

Most people, adults, and children with type-1 diabetes mellitus, use CGM with a doctor’s prescription. Some models may be used for children as young as 2 years of age. A doctor may recommend it if you are on intensive insulin therapy, have hypoglycemia unawareness, or have uncontrolled blood sugar. The doctor may suggest using the CGM all the time or only for a few days to help adjust your diabetic care plan.

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