Susan B. Sloane, BS, RPh, CDE, has been a registered pharmacist for more than 20 years and a Certified Diabetes Educator for more than 15 years. Her two sons were diagnosed with diabetes, and since then, she has been dedicated to promoting wellness and optimal outcomes as a patient advocate, information expert, educator, and corporate partner.
If you believe that a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) will take care of you, eliminating the need for thinking about your diabetes, you're not alone. Having two sons with diabetes, I too share this dream of one day having a computer chip read blood sugar at all times and administer just the right amount of insulin in response. In an ideal world, this would be lovely.
In the real world, CGMs have limitations, so we still very much have to rely on ourselves to make constant decisions about our care.
A CGM is used as a tool to look for trends in blood sugar levels during times when we may not be checking them, such as during sleep. Knowledge of these trends will help both you and your health practitioner make therapy changes that make sense.
For example, if you are waking up with chronic high blood sugar, a CGM may help pinpoint the cause. Adding medication or more insulin may not be the answer. If the CGM finds blood sugar levels are dropping in the middle of the night, the high morning blood sugar is a result of a rebound effect where the body produces more glucose to counteract the lows. Treating this with more insulin would be dangerous in this case. This is just one example of how we can use CGMs effectively. To learn more, consult your own healthcare team.
CGMs are a wonderful advancement in the area of diabetes management. The important thing to remember is that they do not take the place of finger sticks and cannot be viewed as a "stand alone" diabetes treatment plan.