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Like many medical conditions, type 1 diabetes comes with mountains of information to learn, from what blood sugar is and how to check it, the best way to manage diabetes, different kinds of insulin, sliding scales, carb counting, and much more. Medical devices are one way we can simplify some of the information and make type 1 diabetes much more manageable.
Today, we’ll take a look at the basics of the Abbott Freestyle Libre, one of the most popular continuous glucose monitors (CGM) on the market.
What is the Freestyle Libre?
The Abbott Freestyle Libre is a continuous glucose monitor, a device that measures a patient’s blood sugar at regular intervals. The Freestyle Libre measures blood sugar every minute and saves a reading every 15 minutes. This allows patients to have a minute-to-minute update on their blood glucose level, along with records of its trends up and down throughout the day, allowing them to respond immediately to changes and manage their blood glucose more effectively over time.
How does it work?
While a traditional fingerstick device measures your blood glucose directly from your blood (hence the needle stick), the Freestyle Libre measures the amount of glucose in your blood indirectly. While you will have to insert a filament into your skin upon application, the needle is not mean to draw blood. Instead, the Freestyle Libre measures the amount of glucose in your interstitial fluid. The interstitial fluid contains glucose on its way to enter the body’s cells. By measuring the amounts of glucose in the interstitial fluid, we can predict how much glucose is also in the blood.
How do I use this device?
The Freestyle Libre is attached to the skin with an adhesive, which holds the device onto the upper arm. A small filament in the device measures the glucose levels in your body and transmits those readings to another device, such as your smartphone, which displays the information for the patient. With proper care and the use of a top quality Freestyle Libre sensor adhesive, your device can remain firmly in place for up to two weeks.
An exact guide is provided with the device, and Abbott has produced a number of videos on how to set up and use the Freestyle Libre, which can be accessed here.
How much does it cost?
The exact cost of a Freestyle Libre system can vary with insurance coverage, but most patients pay approximately $65 for a Freestyle Libre 2 reader and between $0 to $60 for sensors each month.
Will a CGM get in the way of daily activities?
It shouldn't! People with type 1 diabetes can do pretty much anything while wearing a CGM if they secure it properly. When you use a product like our super strong Freestyle Libre waterproof patches, you can protect your sensor during activities like boating, swimming, showering, or getting sweaty at the gym. A good adhesive can keep your Freestyle Libre from falling off, getting waterlogged, or getting lost, which affords consistent monitoring and saves untold amounts of money on replacement sensors.
What are the key features of the Freestyle Libre?
The newest model, the Freestyle Libre 2, has a variety of useful features. In addition to the ability to view blood glucose levels on a Freestyle Libre reader, you can also view blood glucose levels on the Freestyle Libre app. This allows users to synchronize their sensors with tablets or smartphones.
The Freestyle Libre 2 also allows users to set alarms for their blood glucose level, which means users can get automatic alerts when their blood sugar is too high or too low. This feature removes the surprises from your blood sugar, which makes managing your A1C simple.
How can I get one?
The Abbott Freestyle can be obtained either out of pocket or through insurance. If you aren’t yet ready to commit to this CGM, you might be able to try it free of cost. The Freestyle Libre sensor is available for a free trial. Abbott uses a voucher system which requires patients to fill out a form and submit a prescription through their healthcare provider. Once completed, they can redeem a voucher for a free CGM system and give it a test drive.
Skin Grip works daily to create a community of positivity and support for every person with type 1 diabetes. We’re proud to offer patches that are compatible with devices such as the Freestyle Libre to help you effectively manage your diabetes and live fearlessly.