The People's Perspective on Medicine

Do You Need a Continuous Glucose Monitor?

Using a continuous glucose monitor, you can learn how various foods affect your blood sugar and devise a diet for optimal blood sugar response.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 84 million American adults have prediabetes. That means one-third of us have blood sugar that is somewhat higher than it should be–above 100 mg/dL and below 125 mg/dL. Even though the name prediabetes implies that this condition inevitably evolves into frank diabetes, that is fortunately not the case. With attention and effort, people with prediabetes can prevent diabetes. Some may use technology designed for people with diabetes: a continuous glucose monitor.

Preventing Diabetes:

Q. My mother had diabetes and I want to avoid that. Consequently, I am very motivated to keeping my blood sugar under control.

My doctor suggested a continuous glucose monitor so I can track how my diet affects my blood sugar. I’ve discovered that if I eat white rice, my blood glucose soars. Oddly, ice cream barely seems to affect it.

I really like being able to track this so easily without finger sticks. It really has taught me how to eat sensibly.

Who Needs a Continuous Glucose Monitor?

A. A continuous glucose monitor (CGM) is a wearable device that detects blood sugar levels every few minutes. The patch is applied to the skin on the arm and can be worn for up to two weeks. Having the device communicate its readings to a monitor or even your smart phone can make these data far more accessible. Having that kind of guidance can make it easier to figure out what you should eat and what you should avoid.

This approach is very similar to the one utilized by Dr. Richard Bernstein as he investigated the type of diet that caused the least disruption of his blood sugar. He did not have the benefit of a continuous glucose monitor. With this new technology, a dedicated individual like yourself should be able to figure out how different meals affect your blood sugar and plan your diet accordingly.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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I was excited about this as a mechanism to track how my body responds to various foods until I discovered that the DEXCOM G6 monitoring unit complete kit is priced at about $1600, not including patches. How about some guidelines on similar testing using well-timed finger sticks and common glucose monitors?

waiting for Medtronic CGM to be approved by Medicare.
do not know why they will not approve it yet, since they have approved others.

I have been diabetic for 63 years and check my blood sugar 6-8 times @ day because I am so brittle. I tried a GCM several times, and I could not rely on it. It would wake me with an alert during the night telling me that my sugar was high. I would test myself only to find my blood sugar was lower than normal instead of high. This happened many times. My doctor suggested that it was because I was too thin. I weigh 113 pounds. So I am very reluctant to give the Dexcom 6 another try.

What do you say?

What is the name of this monitor as I’d like to ask my doctor for it? OR can I purchase this myself without an Rx and buy it at the pharmacy???

I test 3x a day. What is the cost? The patch is good for how many tests?

As a T2 Diabetic, a 10 then 14 day CGM has been a total game-changer for me. I use it religiously to help me make decisions on meals, exercise, etc. Since I started wearing it my A1c has dropped from 7.5 to 5.4 and has stayed at that level for the past 18 months. I was taken off of Lantus and put on Metformin ER 1000mg twice a day. I’m now being weaned off of Metformin and switching to a weekly shot. The CGM puts the patient in charge, and there are no excuses when you can swipe it anytime with your cell phone and get your numbers. You can check trends, highs, lows, time in range and all the data that you need to make informed decisions on your daily T2 maintenance.

They aren’t cheap, for me $225 for a 90-day supply with private insurance, but it is money well spent. I do hope prices come down so more folks can use them. Even using programs like GoodRx are prohibitively expensive.

My only gripe is that sensor placement on the back of my arm has been problematic. I was knocking them off weekly. The solution? moving the sensor to my abdomen and covering it with Tegaderm. I verified my numbers with finger sticks to make sure that the location was giving me good readings and I always verify highs and lows with a finger stick. I’ve not had an issue knocking them off since. Problem solved.

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