October 5, 2022

How To Apply a Continuous Glucose Monitor

It’s no secret that continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) are popular among people with diabetes these days. If you’re wondering, “how is CGM inserted?,” keep reading for a complete guide to CGM installation and more. 


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Home / Living with Diabetes / How To Apply a Continuous Glucose Monitor

It’s no secret that continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) are popular among people with diabetes these days. That’s due in large part to their unmatched convenience. Unless your glucose levels don’t match your symptoms, or you need to confirm any high or low readings, you can use these products to test your glucose levels much more quickly and efficiently than you could with a traditional glucose meter. 

 That said, you won’t be able to use these devices properly if you don’t know how to apply their sensors the right way. If you’re wondering, “how is CGM inserted?,” you’re not alone. Keep reading for a complete guide to CGM installation and more. 

What is a continuous glucose monitor? 

The term “continuous glucose monitor” might sound technical, but these devices aren’t that complicated. Essentially, these monitors give you regular updates on your glucose levels, which can help you reduce (but not eliminate) your use of fingerprick tests. 

Why are they used for people with diabetes? 

Living with diabetes can be difficult for lots of different reasons. While fingerprick testing may seem like a relatively minor annoyance, there’s no denying that these tests can take valuable time out of your everyday life. Meanwhile, many people with diabetes have trouble with the pain associated with these tests. 

 CGMs can’t cut fingerprick tests out of your life completely, but they can make them a far less common part of your diabetes management routine. On top of that, you’ll get much more information from a CGM than you would from “normal” glucose meters, potentially improving your diabetes management efforts. 

How does a CGM work? 

Every CGM is built around a sensor, which is worn on a specific part of your body. The sensor records information on your glucose levels throughout the day, but it doesn’t do that by analyzing your blood. What it looks at instead is your interstitial fluid – that is, how much sugar is in the fluid surrounding your body’s cells. Finally, the information from the sensor is transmitted to a smartphone or a standalone reader. 

How to install a continuous glucose monitor 

The continuous glucose monitor installation method you’ll follow depends on the brand of CGM you use. Here are the sensor application methods for US MED’s top CGM systems: 

Dexcom G6 

 Before applying your Dexcom G6 sensor, wash and dry your hands and ensure the sensor and transmitter have not passed the “use by” date. Then, choose a site to insert your sensor. If you are between 2 and 17, use a site on the abdomen or upper buttocks; if you are 18 or older, use the stomach only. Make sure your site of choice is at least 3 inches from injection sites or your insulin pump infusion set. You must also be 2” from the belly button. Avoid bony areas (like ribs and hips) and areas with scars, hair, tattoos, or irritation; along with that, don’t use the same sensor site twice a row. 

 After you’ve picked a site, clean it with rubbing alcohol and let it dry. Remove sensor labels without touching the adhesive, put the applicator on your skin, and fold and break off the safety guard. Then, press the applicator button to insert the sensor. Once that’s done, remove and dispose of the applicator – the sensor should be in place. 

 At this point, it’s time to focus on attaching the reusable transmitter. Clean your transmitter off with an alcohol wipe and let it dry. When it’s dry, insert the transmitter’s tab into the matching slot on your sensor, snapping it into place. Then, rub around the entire patch three times to keep it secure. Once the transmitter is in place, do not remove it until it’s time to replace the sensor. After selecting “start sensor” there is a 2 hour warm-up period.  

FreeStyle Libre 14 day system 

 Unlike the Dexcom G6, the FreeStyle Libre 14 day system is designed for use on the back of your upper arm. Following the previously-explained site selection instructions, select a site on this part of your body. Once you have, clean it with an alcohol wipe (included with your sensor) and let dry. 

 The sensor kits used in the FreeStyle Libre 14 day system consist of two parts: the Sensor Pack and the Sensor Applicator. When you’re ready to install the sensor, take the lid all the way off your Sensor Pack and unscrew the cap from your Sensor Applicator. Press the Sensor applicator into the sensor Pack by lining up the lines. You will hear a loud click. Separate the two and keep the sensor applicator in your hand.  

When that’s done, place the Sensor Applicator over the site you cleaned with the alcohol wipe earlier. Push down firmly, until the sensor is in place, you will hear a click and double-check that it is secure before activating the sensor from your reader. There will be a one hour warm up time. Finally, dispose of the Sensor Pack and Sensor Applicator. 

FreeStyle Libre 2 system 

The FreeStyle Libre 2 system uses the same sensor application process as the FreeStyle Libre 14 day system. As such, you can follow the instructions outlined in the previous section if you use this system. 

Are CGMs covered by insurance and Medicare? 

No matter who handles your insurance, you shouldn’t need to worry about CGM coverage. Both Medicare and the majority of private insurers cover these devices. However, you’ll need a prescription to order your CGM system. 

How to see the glucose reading 

Each CGM brand has a slightly different way of displaying glucose numbers. In the case of the Freestyle Libre products, this will be as simple as scanning your sensor with your phone or reader. 

What do the glucose numbers mean for people with diabetes? 

Type 1 

Working alongside your diabetes healthcare team when determining your ideal glucose levels is crucial. However, these numbers are common goals for people with type 1 diabetes: 

  • 80-130 (before eating) 
  • Under 180 (two hours after a meal) 

Type 2 

These numbers can also apply to people with type 2 diabetes, but it’s still essential to collaborate with your healthcare team to determine your precise goals. 

Why choose US MED for your CGM needs? 

At this point, you can confidently answer the question, “How is CGM applied?”. Along with that, we hope we’ve given you an understanding of how to install a continuous glucose monitor sensor across leading CGM brands. But while choosing the right CGM for your life is essential, picking the right diabetes supply company is just as important. That’s because you’ll need to get more sensors (and many other diabetes products) on a regular basis. 

 US MED is well-known for its ability to reliably deliver top-notch diabetes supplies to people with diabetes across America. But we aren’t just notable for our direct insurance billing and free priority shipping. We’ve also been recognized by the ACHC, URAC, and NABP, and we have an “A+” rating from the Better Business Bureau. Most importantly of all, we’ve delivered diabetes supplies to more than a million happy customers. If you’d like to join them, explore our selection of products today!

Shirley DeLeon Certified Diabetes Care & Education Specialist

Medical Review by Shirley DeLeon, Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist

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