Wearing a Continuous Glucose Monitor: What To Expect
When you start wearing a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), your experience will be colored by your temperament, diabetes management style and expectations shaped by what doctors and CGM manufacturers told you.
The transition to CGM may be easier if your expectations are tempered by the advice of experienced users, who say that using a CGM is not ideal but the benefits are worth the inconveniences.
What To Expect
- Even if a CGM is said to be pain free, there may be discomfort. Applying a sensor is usually a mild quick pinch. Some sensors hurt when going through the skin, and it can take multiple hours for the sensor site to quiet down and stop feeling tender.
- Receiving continuous data updates through technology can be overwhelming and addictive. New users may find themselves constantly checking the meter and becoming obsessive about any fluctuation in glucose levels. Seasoned users learn to apply the CGM data to their diabetes management style without letting their management style be governed by the data.
- CGM users can experience periods of data burnout. This may occur for no apparent reason other than wanting a break from micro-managing numbers, or because other important events are occupying the mind.
- New users may feel restricted by recommended CGM alarm settings, but CGM thresholds are a personal choice determined by the user and their medical team. Some people do well with tight thresholds, while others prefer wider ones. It depends on individual management style, personal preference and need.
- Even people who appreciate the benefits of using a CGM can find wearing the device annoying. Sometimes the device it is forgotten and barely noticeable, but it may occasionally feel “lumpy and awkward” beneath clothing. The bump can be noticeable while wearing fitted clothes.
- It takes time to trust the device’s readings. A CGM gives users glucose trends by monitoring interstitial fluid levels instead of blood levels. Although the accuracy of current devices is generally good, CGM readings still need to be confirmed by testing blood sugar levels.
- Users are sometimes allergic to CGM sensor adhesives and may develop a rash or swelling. Often the solution is simple, such as wearing a Toughpad (bandaid) underneath the sensor.
- Although there are inconveniences to using a CGM, the information gathered can make diabetes easier to manage. For instance, they give drivers confidence before getting on a busy road and peace of mind that low blood sugar during the night will be detected.