Monitoring glucose levels is a vital part of regular diabetes management. Glucose meters allow users to track measure sugars on an as-needed basis, but for patients who need constant monitoring, devices called continuous glucose monitors (CGM) are available.
What is Continuous Glucose Monitoring?
Continuous glucose monitors are FDA-approved devices that meaure blood sugar levels at regular intervals, taking readings every 5-15 minutes. They do this by collecting interstitial fluid (the fluid that surrounds tissue cells) inside your body and using sensors to measure the amount of sugar it contains. A CGM device may use a sensor placed under the skin of your stomach or on the back of your arm. The sensor then transmits the data wirelessly to another device which displays the data. The device shows your sugar level, updating continuously according to the sensor readings. If your blood sugar levels drop dangerously low, an alarm will sound.
How CGMs Can Work with Other Devices
CGMs that integrate with insulin pumps with smartphone styling can allow patients a modern way to show readings in real-time and provide patients the ability to identify trends and patterns in sugar levels and insulin delivery. The data provided by an insulin pump, when combined with CGM data, can provide insight into how much insulin is needed given the amount of carbohydrates consumed, as well as how blood sugar changes while sleeping and during exercise. With this information, patients and doctors can design the most effective individualized diabetes management plan. While CGMs don’t completely eliminate the need for blood glucose monitors (users must measure blood sugar levels at least once a day to keep the device calibrated), they do make monitoring diabetes much easier. Integrating a CGM with a pump makes blood sugar management a streamlined and seamless process.
With a CGM and integrated insulin pump, valuable insights about glucose levels and how they change enable patients to make adjustments that can keep blood sugar levels within range a higher percentage of time than without this combination.
Over time, better blood glucose management can contribute to lower A1C measurements. The A1C test is a blood test that provides information on a person’s average level of blood sugars readings over the past 3 months. A two-year study found that individuals with type 1 diabetes experience an average A1C reduction of 1.3% with CGM. According to the same study, CGM can also reduce hypoglycemia.
If you suffer from diabetes and think you would benefit from continuous glucose monitoring, or want to learn about the benefits of insulin pumps, talk to your doctor about the many different options offered.