Why You Should Try a CGM Even if You’re Reluctant
Editor’s Note: Educational content related to CGM technology is made possible with support from Dexcom, and editorial control rests solely on Beyond Type 2.
Whether you’re checking your blood sugar a few times a day or less than once a week as a person with type 2 diabetes, it’s easy to assume that using a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) isn’t really necessary.
The quality of life for a person with any type of diabetes has changed a lot over the last few decades. While there are always reluctant adopters of any technology, the reluctance to try a CGM is about as logical as watching a movie using blurry VHS tapes instead of streaming it online.
Using a CGM as a person with diabetes has the potential to improve your A1c and overall blood sugar levels, reduce your risk of long-term complications, protect you from hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) while you’re sleeping or driving, and help you determine if your medications are working.
Let’s take a closer look at why it’s worth giving CGM technology a try.
You do need this much information about your blood sugar
For years, people with type 2 diabetes are either taught by the healthcare system that they don’t need to check blood sugar levels daily at all or that a couple of times a day is plenty. In fact, even using a blood glucose meter four times a day is still missing huge amounts of information compared to what a CGM can tell you.
Your blood sugar levels fluctuate throughout the entire day—especially in the hours after you eat or drink. Your blood sugar is rarely sitting still in one place for long.
The amount of blood sugar data a CGM provides can tell you if your medications are working and if your blood sugars are in a safe and healthy range while you’re awake or sleeping. Years and years of missing this information increases your risk of developing diabetes complications like retinopathy and neuropathy.
If you take insulin—or other medications that can cause low blood sugar—using a CGM can also hugely increase your personal safety by sending you hypoglycemia alerts while you’re driving, exercising, sleeping and just getting through the day!
How are you supposed to manage tighter blood sugar levels to prevent diabetes complications if you only know what your blood sugar was at one or two moments of the day? It’s an unreasonable expectation to check several times a day and you can change it by asking your healthcare team to prescribe a CGM.
CGMs provide a new way of reviewing blood sugars: time-in-range
Time-in-range tells you what percentage of the day your blood sugar levels are higher, lower, or within your personal target range. A CGM can provide this data because it’s tracking your blood sugar levels all day long.
Before CGM technology, the only way you could really assess your overall blood sugar health was through A1c testing.
But there are a lot of flaws in A1c testing—starting with the fact that it simply gives you an average blood sugar without any sense of daily fluctuations and quality of life.
You could easily have an A1c of 7.0 percent but still experience blood sugar roller coasters, severe lows and wild highs on a daily basis. If the middle of all that chaos is somewhere between 150 to 180 mg/dL, your A1c will come back around 7.0% and your healthcare team will think you’re thriving. When in reality, you could be struggling and exhausted.
The Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists (ADCES) provides the following guidelines regarding time-in-range (TIR) range goals depending on age and pregnancy.
|Person with diabetes||Blood sugar range||Time-in-Range (hours/day)||Time-Below-Range (hours/day)||Time-Above-Range (hours/day)|
|Adults with type 1 & type 2||3.9-10.0 mmol/L70-180 mg/dL||>70% (about 17 hours||<5% (just over 1 hour)||<30% (about 7 hours)|
|High-risk for lows (children & elderly)||3.9-10.0 mmol/L70-180 mg/dL||>50% (about 12 hours)||<1% (about 15 minutes||<10% (about 2.5 hours)|
|Pregnancy with type 1 diabetes||3.5-7.8 mmol/L63-140 mg/dL||>50% (about 12 hours)||<5% (just over 1 hour)||<25% (about 6 hours)|
|Pregnancy with type 2 or Gestational diabetes||3.5-7.8 mmol/L63-140 mg/dL||>90% (about 21 hours)||n/a||n/a|
Keep in mind that these guidelines are designed to help you stay as healthy as possible while also minimizing your risk of severe hypoglycemia.
Less to carry but easier to share
When you’re using a CGM, you don’t need to carry your entire glucometer kit with you everywhere you go! Instead, you simply need the CGM in your arm and your Smartphone (If you don’t use a Smartphone, you can get a receiver to use with your CGM. A receiver is about the size of an old-school pager.)
You can also share your data with your healthcare team or your family effortlessly! In fact, you can allow anyone in your circle of friends or family to “follow” your blood sugars throughout the day on their own Smartphone for extra support!
CGM technology makes it easier to share your data. CGM technology makes it easier to get up and go do life.
It’s far more comfortable to wear than it looks
Seriously, you forget you even have a CGM on your body! Whether you choose to wear it on the back of your arm, your torso, or your thigh, today’s CGM technology is easy to insert and really durable.
You can lie on it while you’re sleeping, wear it in the shower or while swimming, perform strenuous physical exercise, etc. A lot of people use an additional adhesive to ensure it doesn’t get popped off when you’re getting dressed or exercising. Some have even made it a fashion statement!
If you have gotten used to pricking your finger multiple times a day, you’re probably thinking, “I don’t need to wear that weird thing on my arm. Finger-pricks don’t bother me.”
CGM technology still punctures your skin when you insert the new sensor, but today’s sensors last for about 14 days. Instead of pricking your finger 56 times over the course of two weeks, you could insert a sensor once and maybe prick your finger once or twice over the course of two weeks.
It’s comfortable. It’s easy to put on. You’ll be surprised at just how user-friendly CGM technology truly is.
You can try a CGM for free for two weeks
Getting a CGM starts with asking your doctor for a prescription for a Dexcom CGM or a Freestyle Libre 2. Then you can use that prescription and get a free trial with either CGM technology using these programs:
One free sensor should last you up to 14 days, giving you plenty of time to experience the benefits of using a CGM.
Bottom line: You don’t know what you’re missing until you try it.
Okay, so you’ve been managing your type 2 diabetes for years without all of today’s fancy technology and you’re doing “just fine”. But what if you have the chance to do and feel better than “just fine”?
Today’s CGM technology can completely change the way you manage your blood sugar around so many different aspects of regular life. You can’t fully appreciate it until you’ve tried it.