If you are living with type one or type two diabetes, you know that wearing a continuous glucose monitor makes managing your diabetes a whole lot easier. It also keeps you safe and gives you peace of mind. Unfortunately, it is a tremendous expense. Transmitters can cost around $300 dollars and they might expire every few months. A three-pack of sensors might cost around $400 but you will need them more often as they only last for so many days per FDA regulations. Keep in mind the price varies depending on the specific CGM, and insurance, copays, and deductibles.
The longer we can preserve a sensor, the less money we will have to spend. This is sometimes challenging, especially if a young child is wearing the sensor. But there are measures we can take to get more life out of our sensors. Please keep in mind that this is not recommended by the CGM companies, so extend the sensor at your own risk.
Here are six ways to get more life out of your CGM sensor:
1. Extend the Sensor Life
Clever technologists have discovered how to restart a Dexcom sensor to extend its life beyond ten days. The process works by exploiting a bug in the sensor pairing process. We recently updated our article, How to Extend the Dexcom G6 Sensor Beyond the Ten Day Hard Stop, and will continue to do so as any changes arise. And if you are using the Dexcom G5 sensor, here are instructions on how to extend that one.
2. Keep It Dry
While this isn’t necessarily realistic, the less moisture that touches and goes under the Dexcom sensor, the better. If you can dry your Dexcom thoroughly after showering or swimming, it is more likely to continue to stay intact and last longer. Some people even go as far as blow-drying it before putting on their clothes. Has anyone else noticed a Dexcom wet spot on their jeans after putting them on soon after showering?
3. Location Is Everything
Just like diabetes is different for everyone, so is the most optimal placement of their Dexcom. I personally love wearing mine on my thigh, I find it doesn’t get in the way during CrossFit and I no longer have compression lows. Once I got used to being conscious of it while dressing, this has been the best location for me.
Many parents of small children living with diabetes prefer to put it on their abdomen but others have better luck placing it on the child’s upper buttocks. This is an area that usually has the most fat and when it is out of sight, it is out of mind. This is helpful with young kids who might constantly touch or play with it.
For some people who wear pumps and Dexcom, finding a location for all their sites, while also being sure to rotate sites, can be very challenging. Many of my diabadass friends prefer their arms and find they get their longest life there!
4. Create a Barrier
By using a product like Skin Tac, you can create a barrier between the tape and skin. This will make for less irritation leading to longer life. It is also non-latex and hypo-allergenic but people with sensitive skin should always test the product first. It also removes easily with alcohol, making it an easier process for children.
There are also many products on the market that are overlay adhesives that are guaranteed to get you more life out of your sensor. One of my favorites is Pump Peelz as pictured below.
5. Keep It Clean
Avoid applying lotion to the adhesive, it will only saturate and soften up the material causing it to start to peel. Also, this time of year be conscious of where you apply your suntan lotion, this will also lessen the life of your sensor and additional adhesive if you have one on.
6. Be Cautious
No matter where you decide to place your sensor, there will be nuances that come with it. For me, being aware of its placement on my thigh has become second nature and I rarely have issues with ripping it off. The more aware you are, the better.
Getting the most life of your sensor means fewer insertions and more cost savings. Taking a few simple measures can make a huge difference for your sensor life!
Have you found any other creative ways or have any tips to share on how to extend the life of your sensor? Please comment and share below!
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Read more about continuous glucose monitor (CGM), Dexcom, Intensive management, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), sensor, U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA).