The best least-invasive
The FreeStyle Libre provides outstanding convenience and continuous glucose monitoring in a slightly invasive system that works around the clock to monitor blood sugar levels.
Pros: Not nearly as invasive as other meters, provides continuous monitoring, doesn’t require a doctor for insertion
Cons: May require a prescription before being able to use it, expensive
As previously mentioned, noninvasive glucose meters — which don’t require a blood sample — remain mostly in the early stages of development. But, there are a handful of models that have begun to work their way out to the public, providing viable alternatives to the SMBG units that have been in use for decades. One of those models is the FreeStyle Libre, which can be attached to the body to provide continuous glucose monitoring.
It’s worth noting that the Libre isn’t entirely noninvasive, and the term “noninvasive” can be a bit of a misnomer regarding blood sugar monitors. According to a clinical study done in 2018, the Libre uses “subcutaneous, wired enzyme glucose-sensing technology.” This line is important because the term subcutaneous means beneath your skin. While the Libre may not be as invasive as other monitors, it still does require some amount of injection (as opposed to not breaking the skin at all and being truly noninvasive).
Unlike previous CGM models, the Libre doesn’t require a doctor to embed a sensor inside the body of a patient. Instead, the system uses its own proprietary sensor, which applies to a user’s back or upper arm. Once installed, it can be worn for up to 14 days before it needs to be replaced, providing continuous blood sugar level readings at all times. In order to see those readings, the user simply waves the glucose meter over the sensor whenever they feel the need.
The sensor transmits its current readings to the device where the information is displayed, stored, and documented in the same way it would be on a more standard glucometer. But because there’s no need for lancing devices or test strips, it’s all very easy, tidy, and painless. It also gives the user the ability to quickly determine their blood sugar levels at any given time, offering a level of versatility and tracking that simply hasn’t been possible before.
Unsurprisingly, this level of tracking and sophistication comes with a few drawbacks. For starters, the Libre is considerably more expensive than other monitors on the market, selling for hundreds of dollars depending on the configuration.
Because it’s so new, it usually requires a doctor’s prescription to obtain as well. That means you can’t just login online and order one for yourself and casual users looking for a way to check their blood sugar levels are not likely to be able to get their hands on one — although diabetics have a strong chance. We recommend asking your doctor about your options.
There’s no question that the FreeStyle Libre is a glimpse of the future when it comes to monitoring glucose levels. The system manages to take a mundane and often annoying task and make it as quick, easy, and painless as possible.
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