Which CGM is Right for You?
The good news is that our diabetes management technology choices are expanding every day. So you have to determine what works best for you right now. To help you to make a decision, we’re taking a plunge into the new Freestyle Libre flash glucose monitoring system.
Should you use a Freestyle Libre system?
With the Freestyle Libre system authorized for use in the United States, many PWDs worldwide see Libre as a new method for enhancing their management of diabetes. But what is the Freestyle Libre system, exactly, and how do you know if it suits you well? To get a feel for their interactions with the flash glucose meter, we spoke with a couple of experienced Libre users.
How is Freestyle Libre functioning?
The Freestyle Libre is a device for flash glucose monitoring that involves a sensor and a handheld reader worn on the back of the upper arm. To measure glucose levels per minute, the sensor uses a thin filament inserted underneath the skin. The handheld reader is used, replacing routine finger sticks, to scan the sensor. The Libre, recently licensed for use in the United States, has been internationally available for several months.
The difference between the US variant and the global variant is that the US version has a sensor life of 10 days, a reader’s queuing time of 12 hours, and requires a prescription, while the international version has a sensor life of 14 days, a warm-up time of 1 hour after insertion, and no prescription is needed.
How do I assess which one to use?
There are some points to consider, but the determining factor is insurance coverage for most. Outside the US, most insurance providers are entirely or partly covered by Libre. However, conventional CGMs do not obtain coverage, leaving patients out of their pockets to pay costs.
But individuals with diabetes have some points to remember until cost/payment is secured. Do you feel that you need a CGM, which alarms you when you go above or below thresholds? Does insertion ease and wearability matter most? Are you okay with having another gadget, or do you need the your devices paired down? Do you have adhesive allergies?
See which one is the best to incorporate into your lifestyle, and check in with individuals who have been wearing one. Real-life experience and peer reviews could be just the data you need to make an educated decision, along with the advice of your health care provider.
Other Benefits of Libre:
- For many people, the sensor’s installation is painless and straightforward: each sensor comes in a box with a disposable applicator; you load the sensor into the applicator, position the applicator against your skin, and push firmly down. At the right depth and angle, the applicator implants the sensor for you. The movement and pressure are equivalent to what you would do to use a self-inking stamp, as shared by one RN/CDE. And the applicator looks less daunting than other CGM inserters.
- The reader acts as a sensor scanner, as a fingerstick blood glucose meter, AND as a blood ketone tester (for each of these functions, utilizing separate test strips), minimizing the number of devices to be carried around.
- The device has a touch screen and is easy to use: it has only one button (to turn it on to access the rest of the functions by pressing the icons on the screen. This means even young kids (and tech-confused adults!) can independently monitor their glucose.
- A Rapid-Acting Insulin Calculator is included in the Libre reader, which shows insulin doses based on meter results and the insulin ratios inserted by an approved health care provider into the device. (You will not set up this feature on your own; a health care provide security code is necessary to access this feature.) In this way, to correct above-target BG and cover carb-containing food, the system can do the math for you.” For people on injected insulin systems, this is extremely useful as this ‘bolus measurement’ offers a kind of bridge to an insulin pump’s functions.
- Notes may be applied to the results. There are five regular notes (Food, Exercise, Sickness, Rapid-Acting Insulin Dose, and Basal Insulin Dose), plus you can set up to 6 more customizable messages for items like dining out, alcohol, vigorous exercise, skipped bolus, or whatever variable you want to keep track of personally.
- The sensor is waterproof (IP27: can endure immersion for up to 30 minutes in up to one meter (3 feet) of water) and can be worn when bathing, showering, swimming, or exercising. However, the reader is not water-resistant, so you’ll want to shield it from exposure.
- The sensor housing has a relatively small profile (5 mm high with a flat surface) and a relatively small diameter (35 mm), which is very discreet in the world of diabetes technology. The reader is a reasonable size and lightweight as well.
- The current cost of using Libre is smaller than that of CGM programs. With the device pricing, there is no annual obligation involved.
- Data can be transferred to Diasend for review or to FreeStyle Libre Software, available on their website.
- The reader operates a built-in rechargeable battery that lasts for about seven days between charges.
- The sensor lifespan is 14 days compared to 6 or 7 days for CGM sensors), which means about half as many inputs as a CGM system, saving you time, money, and mental energy.
- The screen can be read in dim light, in the cinema, or the night.