You deserve to live a comfortable life even with diabetes. A Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) can help you achieve that because it lessens discomfort from frequent fingersticks and allows you to manage your condition better.
But it can be hard to select the right CGM since many models and types are available in the market. Finding the best device for you is important. With the right CGM, you can maximize its features and reap its benefits, such as:
- Sharing real-time data with your loved ones and healthcare team
- Alerting you during very high or low blood sugar episodes
- Letting you know how often and what times you are having these high or low sugar levels
Find the best CGM: Things you need to look out for
Before you purchase a CGM model, it’s essential to understand that each person with diabetes has different experiences. That’s why talking to your doctor is ideal so they can guide you and help you determine which model would work best for you. Learning the differences between CGMs can jumpstart your conversation and speed up the selection process.
Although a CGM is a helpful tool in managing diabetes, it is not a replacement for fingerstick blood tests. You may need to still prick your finger at times. Some may even require you to use this method at least two times a day because they need it for calibration.
Meanwhile, some CGMs may not need calibration because their systems don’t require it. You can consider these devices if you don’t like to prick your fingers. It’s still a general rule of thumb that you should double-check with fingerstick tests if you feel different than what the CGM is showing you.
Alerts and alarms
A cool feature of some CGMs is that they have alarms that tell you when your sugar is too high or too low. A real-time CGM can alert you even when you’re asleep or whenever you might need urgent medical attention. All you have to do is set the limits to what levels you want to be notified.
While this is helpful, you should remember that frequent alerts may lead to “alarm fatigue.” This means you can get alarms or alerts a lot and they may not be something you really want to know. For example, you can set an alarm to let you know if your sugar is going up quickly but this is a normal thing right after you eat so you may not want it to go off all the time. If you’d like to have fewer alarms, an intermittent CGM might work better for you. It has no alerts, so this device won’t wake you up in the middle of the night.
Cost and insurance
Taking into account how much a CGM would cost you is also very important. This medical tool can be expensive if you’re using out-of-pocket money, especially for a real-time CGM.
However, these monitoring devices can be accessible and affordable because Medicare or other types of insurance usually cover them. Having a separate transmitter and sensor, instead of one where it is built all into one piece, can cause it to be more expensive. You will want to check which system has the best coverage from your insurance company.
The wear time of sensors may vary depending on how they are made. Some may last for 10 days, while others may last longer. So, if you prefer less sensor replacements and insertions, you may want to look for a CGM with a longer wear time. While some can go for months, these are actually put under the skin by a healthcare provider through a simple in-office procedure.
Your skin reaction to adhesives is an important factor you should think about before buying a CGM. If you have a history of skin irritation, remember that the sensor is held onto your body by an adhesive (a type of tape). You might need to look into the materials used by the makers of the CGMs and discuss them with your physician.
Something else to think about is children with diabetes should have a CGM that allows flexibility and is not easily seen. Part of their day-to-day activities include playing, so it’s best to use a CGM that you can place anywhere from under their arms to their lower back. These areas don’t rub as much with clothing. Sensors that are placed in these areas are less likely to be pulled out, allowing for a more comfortable playtime.
Find the best CGM: Popular options in the market
CGMs have evolved over the years, so they now offer many features that cater to different needs. It may be hard to navigate through the market, but learning about each model can help you find the best CGM. The following are some details you should know about the most popular CGM options.
The Libre 2 system is an almost painless CGM for people four years and above. Its sensor works with readers and smartphones, so you can see the results and customize alert settings through your device. You also have the option to turn off all alerts. Additionally, this CGM system allows you to scan the sensor whenever you’d like and receive only the data you need without seeing all the numbers. The transmitter and sensor are combined into one piece, so it can be less expensive.
Dexcom’s G6 is a CGM monitoring device approved for anyone over two years old. It tracks your blood sugar level continuously and delivers results every five minutes for up to 288 times a day. It lets you see the speed and direction of your blood sugar trends, which may make diabetes management decisions easier. The alarms can be set to where you like them to be, but you cannot turn off a low warning under 55.
The Eversense CGM is for adults ages 18 and above. This model can provide real-time readings and trend information through your mobile phone. That’s because this model continuously sends data to its designated app through the smart transmitter. This is the sensor that needs to be inserted under the skin by a healthcare professional and changed out every 6 months.
Like other brands, the Eversense system has alerts for when you’re reaching too high or too low blood sugar readings. However, its on-body vibe alerts may set it apart from other CGMs because the smart transmitter can notify you even if your phone is far away.
Guardian Sensor 3
This monitoring system continuously tracks your blood sugar levels and sends the data to compatible devices. Medtronic was the first to develop a CGM and built on that experience. With it on, patients with diabetes can be comfortable doing their day-to-day activities, which is perfect for children. Although, it’s best to take note that the ideal users of Guardian Sensor 3 are people over the age of seven.
Find the best CGM: A comparison of CGMs
Each CGM model has its own features, and some may not work for you. To help you evaluate which system you should get, below is a comparison of four popular options in the market. With this information, you can weigh the pros and cons of each CGM device.
|Dexcom G6||Libre 2||Eversense||Guardian Sensor 3|
|Does it require calibration?||No||No||Yes, at least twice a day||Yes, at least two times a day|
|How long does its sensor last?||10 days||14 days||180 days||7 days|
|Does it have alarms?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Where can you see the data?||Receivers, iPhones, Android devices, smartwatches, insulin pumps||Readers, iPhones, Android devices||Android devices and iPhones||Insulin pumps, iPhones, and Android devices|
|How long is the warm-up time?||2 hours||1 hour||24 hours after implantation by your doctor||2 hours|
|Does Medicare cover it?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes (only if used with an insulin pump)|
|Who is it best for?||Dexcom G6 is best for patients who prefer to see detailed information about their blood sugar levels.||The Libre 2 system is best for individuals who prefer seeing only the data they need but will still have access to full data.||The Eversense CGM is ideal for people who are willing to calibrate twice a day and have no plans of having an MRI in the next 90 days. It will need to be inserted every 6 months by your doctor during an in-office procedure.||Guardian Sensor is the only CGM system that will work with a Medtronic insulin pump.|
Need more help? Consult a professional
It’s always best to seek advice from experts. They can help you assess your needs and determine which CGM is right for you. At Better Health, our professionals can recommend the perfect product you need. Give us a call at 415-475-8444 today.