A continuous glucose monitor (CGM) is a diabetes device that is inserted (and worn) under the skin for a specific period of time (usually 3-7 days). It reads and records a person’s glucose reading every few minutes. The CGM can be worn by persons with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. This constant, real time blood glucose monitoring allows a person to have better control his/her glucose level, which means a lower risk of diabetes complications, as well as an improved quality of life.
A CGM can be programmed with alerts (alarms) that can serve several purposes. In addition to notifying you when there is a significant rise (or fall) in a glucose level, these devices can also track developing trends. They can be personalized to track activity, as well as meals, and their corresponding glucose levels. Finally, this recorded data can then be uploaded into web-based programs and shared with family members, as well as healthcare providers. The findings are able to tell you many things, such as the right medication levels, activity levels, and the appropriate levels of carbohydrates needed at mealtimes (and other activities). Thus, these devices lead to better diabetes glucose management, and lessen the risk of long-term complications resulting from hyper/hypo glycemic events.
A CGM does not totally replace your home glucose monitor. It is usually advised to check your blood sugar with a regular glucose monitor a few times a day, to simply make sure the CGM is giving accurate readings. Several CGM monitors are on the market right now, available for both children and adults. They require a doctor’s order (prescription) and many are covered by insurance, if circumstances warrant. Coverage is usually approved if the person is on intensive insulin therapy (usually >3 daily insulin injections and >4 glucose self-testing episodes daily), has had episodes of hypoglycemia unawareness, or is having extreme hyper/hypoglycemic episodes.
Diabetes continues to grow at an alarming rate. In a press release dated July, 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated,” More than 100 million U.S. adults are now living with diabetes or prediabetes” (https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2017/p0718-diabetes-report.html). When lifestyle changes, and baseline treatments are not sufficient, a continuous glucose monitor can be a welcome addition to one’s plan of care.