CGM, or continuous glucose monitor, puts diabetes management into the 21st century. This small wearable device could be considered the next step in blood glucose testing, and your next step to better diabetes management.

What is a CGM?

A CGM is a small wearable device that tracks your glucose throughout the day and night, notifying you of highs and lows so you can take control of your levels.

The continuous glucose monitor automatically checks your blood sugar every 5 minutes and displays your “numbers” on a screen. It also features a convenient application that is accessible to iPhone and Android users.

Dexcom offers the option to allow glucose readings to go on a smartphone, or even a smart watch. The application on your smartphone also features a Share component, in which you can share your blood glucose readings to another person’s smartphone. Both the user and the Share recipient will receive notifications of highs and lows, and is a fantastic way to keep an eye out for a friend.

Read Two Minds, One Dexcom — How My Mom and I learned to Share.

The CGM consists of three basic parts:

  • wireless display device (or receiver) –  has a screen where you can check your current glucose level, look at past data over a span of 24 hours, and get trends about whether glucose is likely to go up or down, and how fast.
  • transmitter –  is the small piece that fits onto the sensor and sends glucose information data wirelessly to your display device.
  • sensor – is inserted just underneath the skin, is thinner than a needle and roughly half an inch long. The sensor remains in the skin for several days, detecting glucose information.

How a CGM Works

The CGM can be placed in several areas of your body, depending on what is most comfortable for the user. The most popular places for a CGM tend to be around the stomach, back of the arms and legs. Avoid spots where your body naturally bends a great deal, where clothing might cause irritation or be a burden.

The process of inserting the CGM is easy and virtually painless. For seven days (longer if you are able to keep the adhesive for sticking), you can have direct access to your blood sugars throughout the day and night.

The Benefits of a CGM

Finger pricking in the morning, two hours before and after meals, before and after physical activity, at bed, and whenever you feel symptomatic is unrealistic, even to the most tightly controlled diabetics. Cue the beauty of a CGM.

The CGM is a way for you to quickly glance at your device and determine where you are standing as far as your levels go. You will get a notification if your level dips below 80, and you will get a notification if your level spikes above 200. You have the ability to change these notifications based on your diabetic control.

The CGM is able to withstand the active lifestyle of a person with Type 1. The qualities of this device, the easy insertion and the amazing capabilities of this device make them a must-have for someone with diabetes.

Usage Tips

CGMs are built to stay on your skin for several days. If you find the sticking part of your CGM coming off, you can use a piece of kinesiology tape, cut out a hole for your transmitter, and stick the tape on top of your CGM. You can also purchase adhesive wipes to ensure the long lasting wear of the CGM.

The benefits of a CGM makes a life with Type 1 a little easier by taking some of the questions out of your blood glucose levels. Without worry, you’ll be able to know your levels right away. Additionally, you can easily predict if you are going to be heading high or low because of the trending arrows that are shown on the display device. With this knowledge, you can actively prevent potentially dangerous situations in blood glucose management.

Check out our Pumps Guide and our Blood Glucose Meter Rundown!