Continuous glucose monitoring systems (CGMS) use a glucose sensor contained in a small needle to determine the level of glucose . The sensor is attached to the skin with a sticky patch, and it wirelessly transmits results to a small recording device (the size of a pager or cell phone), which you wear on your clothing, carry in a purse or bag, or place near you (eg, a bedside table). The monitor updates and displays your blood sugar level every few minutes.
You must remove and replace the sensor in a different place on your body approximately once per week. In addition, you must continue to perform finger stick blood sugar testing several times daily to ensure that the continuous monitor is correctly calibrated.
Currently, continuous blood glucose monitors are recommended only for people with type 1 diabetes who inject with insulin often with an insulin pump. A combined insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor is also available. Many experts think that continuous glucose monitoring may be most useful in people who have difficulty recognizing when they have low blood sugar.
The continuous glucose monitor displays your blood sugar level every few minutes, allowing you to see if the level is increasing, decreasing, or is stable. The receiver can also be set to alarm if your blood sugar level is above or below a pre-set level, which can be especially helpful for people who cannot feel when they have low blood glucose (so called hypoglycemia unawareness).
You can download blood sugar results from the continuous monitor to your computer, allowing you to see blood sugar trends over time. You can use this information to determine if you need to adjust your insulin dose.
Most people do not recommend continuous glucose monitoring alone for information about your blood glucose levels. It is important to do several fingersticks daily to calibrate the CGMS device and to verify that the sensor readings are accurate.
In addition, the costs associated with continuous glucose monitors are much greater than those of traditional glucose monitors. Not all continuous glucose meters and supplies are covered by commercial health insurance companies.
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