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For people with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, monitoringis a necessary part of daily life. However, a can be a bit of a pain, as it requires you to prick your finger and check your blood glucose manually. But there's an alternative if you're looking for a more convenient option.
A continuous glucose monitor, or CGM, is designed to be worn and used over long periods of time. It can make checking your blood sugar levels as simple as checking your phone. Continuous glucose monitoring devices can potentially be worn on the belly or the arm and may help you make decisions throughout the day based on your blood glucose readings, which can help with managing diabetes.
"Continuous glucose monitors offer more intensive monitoring of a diabetic patient's sugar levels," said Dr. Rebecca Fenichel, an endocrinologist at Westmed Medical Group. "They are particularly well suited to patients who have to check multiple times a day, or to patients who want to get more frequent feedback during the day."
While anyone can buy a regular blood glucose meter, you'll need a prescription from your doctor for a CGM system. Doctors may recommend a continuous blood glucose monitoring device for reasons tied to your unique health circumstances and lifestyle, to track your personal glucose trends and keep on top of your insulin levels, but a CGM device may not work for everyone's unique diabetes care plan.
CGM devices can also give you and your doctor more information about blood sugar level than a standard meter -- like if your blood sugar begins to drop too low, the device can warn you about your dropping blood glucose levels, "which can be a very helpful feature in helping patients avoid hypoglycemia," said Fenichel. "They can tell you not only what your current sugar level is but also whether it is on the way up or on the way down."
For this article, we've consulted doctors, including Fenichel, and researched the most popular models to curate the best continuous glucose monitors on the market for 2023. Just be sure to talk to your doctor about diabetes monitor options to make a plan for the best health monitoring for you.
Best continuous glucose monitors
This meter is recommended by Fenichel and was previously recommended by Dr. Nate Favini, medical lead of Forward. "For people who are interested in deeper insights into their glucose levels, I'll often recommend the Freestyle Libre for continuous glucose monitoring," said Favini.
"By placing a sensor on your arm, you can track your glucose constantly through the day and develop your understanding of what makes your sugar levels go up and down. People will often be surprised that foods that they assumed were good for their glucose levels may be causing spikes in their sugar. Though continuous glucose monitors are more expensive, they can help you understand what types of food and exercise are best for you."
To read your blood sugar on the Freestyle Libre, you do a quick scan with the CGM device to get a reading. There's also optional alarms for if your blood sugar gets too high or too low.
"I find continuous glucose monitoring to be a valuable tool in the management of both type 1 and 2 diabetes," Dr. Josh Emdur, medical director of SteadyMD, said. "CGM data provides actionable insight to help patients track their glycemic response to dietary choices and activity levels."
The Dexcom G6 doesn't require you to manually scan to get a glucose level reading -- instead you get a wireless reading either on a dedicated receiver device or to your phone or Apple Watch. The Dexcom G6 reads your blood sugar every five minutes, keeping track of your blood sugar level as long as you're wearing it night and day. You can set a custom range for where you'd like your blood sugar to be, and if it goes into low blood sugar or high blood sugar ranges you set, you will get notified.
"For patients on an insulin pump, the Dexcom G6 may connect with your pump and offer a closed-loop system to turn off your insulin if you are going low. The Dexcom monitor is also approved in pregnancy and offers continuous monitoring that you can see on your phone at all times," says Fenichel.
If you want a device that you can set up and don't have to worry about reinserting for up to 180 days, Eversense is a great option for diabetes management. A healthcare provider will insert the sensor, and then you place the transmitter above that.
Once the sensor is in place, you don't have to change it out for about 180 days, a long sensor life. The transmitter itself can alert you if your blood sugar is too high or low, and you can also get wireless readings sent to your phone via an app. You can share your blood glucose data from your app with your doctor or anyone else who wants to check your blood sugar readings.
The Guardian Connect System is a CGM that can tell you your current glucose readings quickly via a connected app and also lets you easily access trends and data about your blood sugar over time. One feature that stands out with The Guardian is the "predictive" alerts you can get about your sugar. Unlike other CGM systems that alert you when your sugar is already high or low, The Guardian uses technology that predicts when your blood sugar might get high or low, before it happens. Another feature that comes with the monitor is the Sugar.IQ diabetes assistant app for diabetes management, which uses your data to help you figure out what diet, exercise and insulin works best for you.
More for your health
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.