Are Glucose Readings different between CGM and BGM?
Both Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) and Blood Glucose Meters (BGM) are systems used by diabetics to measure and monitor the glucose levels in their body.
Even though both are sufficient and efficient when it comes to diabetes management and monitoring, there is a substantial difference between the two. We’ll get into the finer details of the matter in this article but to keep it simple: a Continuous Glucose Monitoring system measures the glucose levels in the interstitial fluid throughout the day and night while a Blood Glucose Meter measures the glucose levels in the blood at a single moment in time.
The difference between CGM and BGM
Another significant difference between the systems is that glucose readings and measurements are taken differently between the two systems.
Continuous Glucose Monitoring makes use of a sensor that is placed under the skin of the upper arm and connected to a transmitter—which then sends glucose readings at regular intervals to a handheld reader through Bluetooth technology.
On the other hand, Blood Glucose Meter needs a fingerstick that pricks the fingertip to measure glucose levels.
The frequency of reading also spreads the gap even larger between the two systems.
Continuous Glucose Monitoring systems provide readings by using the data that has been collected over an entire night and day while a Blood Glucose Meter is only capable of providing a single reading of glucose levels.
Since Continuous Glucose monitoring systems collect readings throughout the day and night, it’s safe to say that they can give dynamic information regarding the rate of change and direction of glucose levels. This sort of trajectory can help the person managing their diabetes make the necessary changes to keep their glucose in check.
Blood Glucose Meter systems don’t have this level of proactivity.
Continuous Glucose Monitoring systems are best used to manage outpatient glycemic to reduce AIC and also helps with reducing the guesswork that normally happens when making decisions for treatment based on a single reading from a blood glucose meter.
Blood Glucose Meter systems require deliberate action such as calibration to get glucose level readings while Continuous Glucose Monitoring system gives readings in real-time even when the patient is sleeping as it works throughout the night.
Continuous Glucose Monitoring System
CGMs have various benefits and shortcomings when measuring and monitoring glucose levels:
CGMs provide a trend of glucose level readings in real-time, which not only tells you where the glucose levels are headed but also where it is at the time.
This gives you the information to manage the glucose levels around physical activities and food.
Since CGMs measure glucose levels at all times, the system can detect the highs and lows that the patients may miss and notifies them through programmed alerts.
This is beneficial for any patient but especially for parents who have diabetic children that may not be able to communicate when their glucose levels are low or high.
CGMs also allow for viewing of the glucose levels from a distance as the transmitter can send the data to the receiver a few feet away. This makes it easier for parents and caregivers to check the glucose levels on their reader or smartphone without necessarily being with the patient in the same room.
The use of CGMs allows for pattern detection on the glucose levels as it measures the levels throughout the day and night. This helps assess the effectiveness of the patient’s insulin doses and the possible effect that physical exercise and food can play on the glucose levels.
However, a CGM can be a technological burden to some patients and caregivers as it is a new thing to learn and wear, which can make daily life seem more complicated.
CGMs may lead to data overload, since it provides a lot of information regarding glucose levels—more than the patient has ever had before.
Since CGMs involves placing a sensor under the skin, which may be uncomfortable to wear and can cause pain.
Who should use a CGM?
The American College of Endocrinology (ACE) and American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) has published guidelines that recommend the following patients to use CGM:
- Patients that are unaware of hypoglycemia or/and are at high risk of hypoglycemia.
- Patients with type 2 diabetes on basal insulin, multiple insulin injections or sulfonylureas.
- Patients with type 1 diabetes.
Blood Glucose Meter System
BGMs have various advantages and disadvantages when monitoring glucose levels of patients.
When used properly, BGMs give accurate readings of the blood glucose levels.
Most traditional Blood Glucose Meters are affordable and often covered by insurance companies.
After years of development, most Blood Glucose Meter manufacturers’ have been able to make them less complicated and easy to use.
Blood Glucose Meters are versatile as they provide a variety of extras. Most meters store results of past tests in the internal memory and the patient can download the data into a personal computer for recordkeeping.
BGMs are invasive as the patient needs to draw blood whenever they want to check their glucose levels by pricking their fingertips or other less sensitive areas.
BGMs only provide a snapshot of the glucose levels at that particular time. For the patient to know how the glucose levels fluctuate, they need to do many tests throughout the day.
The strips used by the BGMs are not interchangeable. This means that the patient must use strips that are designed for the specific meter, if not, the readings may not be reliable.
Who should use a BGM?
Patients with Type 1 diabetes can use BGM to measure their glucose levels 4 to 10 times a day.
Patients with Type 2 Diabetes need to use BGM 2 to 4 times per day to measure their glucose levels.
Before deciding on whether to use Continuous Glucose Monitoring system or Blood Glucose Meter to measure your glucose levels, consult your doctor to give you the best advice.
If the glucose alerts and readings from the Continuous Glucose Monitoring system do not match the symptoms that you are experiencing or expectations, use a Blood Glucose Monitor to make any decisions involving diabetes treatment.