Diabetes Self-Management Articles

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Continuous Glucose Monitoring
Getting Started

by Linda Mackowiak, M.S., R.N., C.D.E.

As mentioned earlier, however, because the rise in interstitial glucose level lags behind the rise in blood glucose level just after eating, if you put the high alarm setting too high, you may not get an early warning that your glucose level is out of range. On the other hand, if you set the alarm too low, it may go off every time you eat.

Some health-care providers may suggest that you turn off the high and low glucose alarms for the first few days of using a continuous monitor (or that you set the low alarm very low and the high alarm very high), so that you can get used to wearing the device and to getting a lot more information about your glucose level than you are used to. If you decide not to use the alarms at first, keep in mind that you do not have the protection of this safety net.

Skin and tape issues
If you experience irritation or redness under the tape holding your sensor in place, or if the tape isn’t sticking well, talk to your health-care provider about it, and call the monitor manufacturer as well to report any problems. There are other tapes and skin wipes that you can try that may keep your sensor secure without bothering your skin. (The products used to hold glucose sensors in place are the same as those used to hold insulin pump infusion sets in place.) Don’t ignore the problem; it can make the difference between being willing to use continuous glucose monitoring and not being willing to use it.

Staying grounded
With all of the new glucose information you’ll be getting from a continuous glucose monitor, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, but try to keep things in perspective.

Aim for improvement, not perfection, and don’t try to fix everything at once. If you’re not sure what to do first, try learning about and preventing some lows. Some people find that their overall diabetes control improves when they do this. Work with your health-care provider to make small changes, reassess, and make some more small changes. In many cases, cumulative small changes can make a big difference.

Remember to keep an eye on glucose trends, not just individual glucose numbers. Focus on prevention and catching potential problems early.

If your blood glucose control improves as a result of using a continuous monitor, you may find you are gaining weight. This can happen as your body becomes able to store glucose it was previously losing in urine. You will need to rebalance your food, exercise, and insulin to stop the weight gain and stay at a healthy weight. Talk to your health-care provider about how to do this safely.

Whatever you do, try not to get discouraged. Speak to your health-care provider if your attempts at improved diabetes control aren’t having the effects you intended.

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