Taking A Deeper Look: Glucose Meter & CGM

 

If you’re a Type 1 Diabetic, chances are you’re pretty familiar with glucose meters and/or CGMs to monitor your blood glucose levels. In this post, we look at the pros and cons of using just a glucose meter vs using a glucose meter in conjunction with a CGM.

 

Diabetes 101: A Quick Reminder

How does a glucose meter work?

 

A glucose meter is a device that measures the approximate concentration of glucose in your blood. It does this by actually reading your blood. You prick your finger with a lancet and place a drop of your blood on a disposable test strip. This strip is then placed in the glucose meter, which reads and calculates your blood glucose level.

How does a CGM work?

A CGM, also known as a continuous glucose monitor, is a wearable device that continuously tracks your blood sugar levels. It alerts you when your levels are too high or too low. You place a small sensor on your stomach, pelvis, or back. This sensor continuously measures your glucose levels. A transmitter, which sits on top of the sensor, sends data wirelessly to a receiver. This receiver shows trends in your glucose levels, and your overall data.

 

What’s better? Let’s break it down.

Just a Glucose Meter: Pros and Cons

The biggest pro is pretty obvious. The glucose meter can show your blood glucose levels whenever you want.

However, one con is that the glucose meter can only show you data from snapshots of time. In other words, you can see your levels during those 6 times that you prick your finger. But what about the rest of the time? The glucose meter can’t tell you anything that happens in between.

Finally, the data that the meter gives you is from the past. It can tell you where your levels were. But it can’t predict what’s going to happen in the future — which might be far more beneficial to know.

Glucose Meter & CGM: Pros and Cons

Conversely, one of the biggest pros of using a CGM is that you’re getting data continuously, day and night. The sensor reads your levels every 5 minutes and shows you trends. This is much better than just receiving snapshots of data, because you can monitor your health throughout the day. Thus, using a CGM with a glucose meter can help you effectively manage your diabetes.

But there are still some cons to using a CGM. You need to place the sensor in your body. Typically, the sensor only needs to be changed every 10-14 days. But that still means you’re poking holes in your body faster than your body has time to repair itself.

Secondly, the CGM reads your blood glucose levels in your interstitial fluid. There’s a 10-13% difference between blood glucose and interstitial fluid. Thus, there’s always that margin of error.

Finally, like the glucose meter, the CGM can only show past data. There’s no way for it to predict what will happen in the future.

So, what’s better?

As we’ve mentioned, there are pros and cons to each. We’ve done a lot of talking and now we want to hear from you! What are your thoughts on this great debate? Do you have a personal preference? If so, why? Tell us in the comments below!

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