Conventional glucose meter units usually use finger prick model to measure blood sugar level. You may feel uncomfortable with the pain of these finger sticks. Thankfully, scientists have designed new model in which there is no strip needed (free of finger-pick blood test). The patch doesn’t puncture the skin, so it’s relatively painless.
Diabetes is a silent killer affecting lots of people worldwide, especially true when it’s poorly controlled. The bad news, this serious public health metabolic problem is increasing. According to WHO, people with the condition could be about 366 million in 2030!
The good news, the disease is also manageable – as long as the blood sugar level is maintained as well, there should be nothing to worry. But this requires a good blood sugar management over the long run.
You need a lifelong commitment to follow treatment plan along with healthy lifestyle choices. With conventional standard glucose meter units, this will take lots of finger pokes. Even multiple finger pricks per day may be required to only figure out your current blood sugar level. This is definitely a bad ‘painful’ thing for diabetics.
That’s why we need a new glucose meter with simple non-invasive & adhesive patch feature. This innovation would potentially replace the use of painful diabetes tests and you can check the level more conveniently.
All you need to do is put the small sensor patch (typically on the arm or abdomen, inserted a few millimeters under the skin). Then pass the device’s reader over the sensor, and you will immediately get the level of your blood sugar popping up on the screen. So simple and easy to use!
FreeStyle Libre CGM
The FreeStyle Libre glucose monitoring system is the first glucose meter without finger pricks approved by the FDA in September 2016 for clinic use by professionals, and one year later (in September 2017) for personal use by individuals with diabetes . It works both in type-1 and type-2 diabetes (adults).
This relies on disposal sensor applied on your upper arm worn for several days. The sensor will record your blood sugar level instantly afterwards. Just leave the sensor for at least about 1 hour, and then you can see the level of your blood sugar with the device’s reader.
The innovation behind the scene! It has a new technology of pre-calibrated sensor to measure your real-time glucose readings. The sensor is small (about the size of 2 stacked quarters) and water-resistant – plus there is no transmitter (free of bulky thing). It works by measuring interstitial fluid of the application area, which is scientifically comparable to your capillary blood.
Back-data! Besides showing the current reading of blood sugar level at the moment you scan, the system also runs continuously to display glucose reading every 15 minutes. The reader can show this in a graph of blood sugar readings for the past 8 hours.
How about accuracy? Well, it’s hard to answer since accuracy for CGM (Continuous glucose monitoring) like the Libre is a bit of complex issue. Research studies on evaluating the accuracy reading of CGM often use the comparison with a lab analyzer blood glucose value. The comparison could be ‘out’ of by 10-15 %, but most current standards say this is still ‘accurate enough’ .
The next question, can you trust it? So far, people haven’t had serious problems by using on the Libre sensor results. In general, it seems to be doing OK and reliable for ‘no-strip needed’ glucose meter.
Like Libre system, Dexcom G6 is also free of involving finger-stick. It has factory-calibrated design with a smart auto-applicator so you can use it with one button insertion which is easier insertion and painless (smooth, you wouldn’t feel a thing).
It’s probably the latest new CGM unit on the market. It works better than G5 – and approved for adults, children, and toddlers (2 years and older). It still uses transmitter, but smaller and more comfortable than Dexcom G5.
Plus, it works more accurately on providing real-time glucose readings, better than the Libre. The accuracy is more reliable, especially on the level above 250 mg /dl and below 80 mg /dl. It’s the first CGM product approved for medical treatment instruction – your doctor may use it (based on the test result alone, without other tests) to change your diabetes treatment plan.
- The reliability of Dexcom G6 is higher than the Libre, so you’re likely to have finger-sticks less often.
- Supported with app or smart phone integration, which is also easily connected with other apps such as Apple Care.
- It doesn’t require scanning the sensor. The system will continuously record the blood sugar levels. There is lower risk for the sensor to fail since it works automatically.
- Equipped with smart alert system for a blood sugar spike or too low blood sugar level.
- The sensor is mandatory 10-day wear. You need to replace it after 10 days of use.
- It’s poor adhesive.
- Sometimes the device loses signals.
- And the biggest downside, the unit costs a fortune (more expensive than the Libre CGM unit).
What else to remember
CGM (Libre or Dexcom G6) is easy to use and simple, but so helpful in monitoring blood sugar levels. We can use it independently or along with an insulin pump to check the level on a short-time period or a real-time basis.
The ultimate cure for diabetes is still unknown, but the disease is a manageable condition and many diabetics can manage it successfully.
Since doing finger-sticks is very uncomfortable for most people, CGM system is probably your best bet to deal with. Which CGM product is best? At a glance, Dexcom 6 is probably the winner – but this is not always the case, because opposite can be true for some patients.
The use of Dexcom 6 or Libre is probably a necessity if you have some of the following issues: