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How a Continuous Glucose Monitor works

dexcom patchesCGM sensors became one of the most helpful and life-saving devices for people with diabetes worldwide. More and more people with diabetes use these devices as part of their daily diabetes self-care.

CGM tracks glucose levels throughout the day and night and can alert you if your levels go too high or low. CGM systems take glucose measurements at regular intervals, as frequently as every 5 minutes, and translate them into dynamic data to show glucose direction and rate of change. It is a relatively new tool in the diabetes arsenal, and arguably the most advanced. But now everyone knows how it works. Today let’s highlight the anatomy of a CGM sensor.

The CGM consists of three basic parts: the wireless monitor, often called a receiver; the transmitter; and the sensor.

  • The monitor has a screen where all data about your glucose level is shown;
  • The transmitter acts as the middleman between the sensor and the receiver. It is a little device that attaches to the sensor and transfers information to the monitor;
  • The most sophisticated part of the CGM is sensor. It is thinner than a needle and about half an inch long. The sensor is inserted just under the skin, where it remains in place for several days, detecting glucose in the surrounding fluid. The sensor uses the same enzyme to measure glucose levels as a test strip: glucose oxidase. This enzyme converts glucose to hydrogen peroxide. The peroxide reacts with platinum inside the sensor, generating an electrical signal that travels through a tiny wire to the transmitter. A computer program in the CGM converts the electrical signal into a glucose reading.

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