If you and your doctor have decided that you should try a CGM, you may be at a loss for what to do next. You’ve done all this research about which supplier and type of CGM to purchase, but perhaps you don’t know what to do now that you have received your new CGM.
Now you no longer have to wonder how to get started using your CGM. This article covers all of the basics you need to know to use your CGM properly and effectively.
What is a CGM
What a CGM (or Continuous Glucose Monitoring System) is has been covered in other posts on the US Med website. Check out this article for more information.
However, as a quick reminder, let’s go over some CGM basics. A CGM is comprised of three parts: the sensor, the receiver, and the transmitter. The sensor attaches to your skin and tracks your subcutaneous blood glucose levels over time. The sensors have to be changed at regular intervals, with the amount of time you can leave them on your skin varying by brand. The sensor includes a transmitter that sends data to the receiver—often your own Smart devices in modern systems—which then displays the information for you.
CGMs are a great way to reduce the need for daily fingersticks. They have also been shown to help people manage their own blood sugar levels, and thus reduce hypoglycemic episodes. A large amount of data these devices supply help put you in the driver’s seat of your diabetes management. But, they have to be used correctly for you to receive these benefits.
Using a CGM
The sensor is the trickiest part of a CGM system to get right. The transmitter is included in the sensor, so you do not have to fiddle with it at all. And, modern CGM systems all the receiver to be your Smartphone or tablet. So, you will not have to carry around a pager-like device to read your blood glucose data.
When you receive your CGM make sure to completely read its user guide. Every system will be slightly different. Although the steps will be relatively similar, you should check the order laid out here against your device’s requirements.
For the purposes of streamlining, the steps listed below are for the Freestyle Libre system. This CGM does not require fingerstick calibration, which makes it extremely easy to use. However, bear in mind that you will likely need to perform some type of fingerstick calibration if you purchase a different CGM.
To get started with the Freestyle Libre, open your package and pull out the reader, sensor pack, and sensor applicator. Make sure that you are familiar with all aspects of these three components. Then charge your reader and prepare to assemble and apply the sensor.
As mentioned above, applying the sensor is the trickiest part of using a CGM. The sensor for the Freestyle Libre should be attached on the back of your upper arms. Choose an application site that is clean and does not have any skin imperfections. Then clean the site with an alcoholic wipe.
Once your application site is ready to be used, put the sensor in the applicator. The sensor will be completely covered by the applicator—it has a needle, so do not put your finger inside the applicator for any reason. Then put the applicator on the site and press down firmly. Pull the applicator off of your arm and gently press the adhesive on the sensor on to your skin.
Now the Freestyle Libre sensor is applied, so it’s time to align it with the reader. Turn the reader on and press the “start new sensor” button. Bring the reader close to the sensor to scan it. Wait twelve hours initially for the reader to calibrate with the sensor. Then you can track your blood glucose as normal.
Most of the CGM systems on the market will have similar start-up procedures. Clearly, applying the sensor is tricky, but the rest of the process should be fairly automatic. If you have questions consult your user manual, healthcare professional, or the customer service line of your CGM supplier.
CGM Tips and Tricks
When getting started with your CGM, there are a few tips and tricks to remember so that the process goes smoothly.
1) Read your user manual before applying anything.
2) Always place the sensor on the recommended site. Often a specific area of your body is the only approved site for the CGM and placing the sensor somewhere else can cause inaccurate readings.
3) Calibrate your CGM system as your user manual describes and on the correct timetable. Whether you need fingerstick calibration or not, this process ensures that your CGM readings remain accurate.
4) Don’t become 4) too overwhelmed by all the alerts at first. This is an important time in your life with a CGM. As you learn more about how to manage your blood glucose, the number of alerts will decrease.
CGMs can be a literal lifesaver for someone with blood glucose issues. Whether you have diabetes, hypoglycemia, or another blood sugar condition, you should consider purchasing a CGM. In order to have the best CGM experience possible, it is important that you start the process correctly. Once you understand exactly how to set up and use your CGM, the process will become automatic. But, be prepared for the first couple of sensor applications to take some time.
In this article, you have learned the start-up process for the Freestyle Libre and some tips and tricks to help you stay sane as you transition to a CGM. Additionally, our customer care representatives at US Med are happy to answer any questions you may have and help you get off to a great start with your CGM. Contact us today to learn more about our line of CGMs and what they can do for you.