Daily glucose monitoring is a pillar of diabetes management. Routine monitoring not only allows you to spot high and low glucose events and prevent health complications but also provides a detailed picture of how well your treatment plan is working.
The most common ways to check glucose levels are blood glucose monitors (BGMs), continuous glucose monitors (CGMs), and a new automatic blood glucose monitor (ABGM) option, like the POGO Automatic. Learning about the key differences between blood glucose monitors vs. continuous glucose monitors can help you understand your options and create a glucose monitoring routine that works for you.
What Is a Blood Glucose Monitor?
A blood glucose monitor is a handheld digital device that allows you to check your blood glucose levels anytime you want. There are many types of BGMs available, from traditional versions to innovative automatic options.
Traditional BGMs typically come in a kit containing the BGM, a lancing device and lancets, test strips, and batteries. To check blood glucose levels, the general process is as follows:
- After washing and drying your hands, insert a test strip into the meter
- Use your lancing device and lancet to obtain a blood sample from one of your fingers
- Place the drop of blood on the test strip
- View your blood glucose level on the monitor’s display panel
While traditional BGMs require separate test strips and lancets to be manually loaded into the device, automatic blood glucose monitors (ABGMs) allow for automatic lancing and blood collection with the press of a button.
What Is a Continuous Glucose Monitor?
A continuous glucose monitor (CGM) is a wearable device that continuously monitors glucose levels in interstitial fluid (the fluid in the spaces around cells) in your subcutaneous tissue using a sensor and a transmitter. A sensor is inserted under the skin (usually on the arm or stomach), held in place with an adhesive patch or tape, and connected to a transmitter that sends readings to a monitor. A new reading is recorded every few minutes.
While the sensor must be continuously worn, it is safe to wear while bathing, exercising, and swimming and can typically be concealed under clothing.
BGM Vs. CGM: A Quick Comparison
Here’s a quick rundown of blood glucose monitors vs. continuous glucose monitors to help you get a better understanding of how each would fit into your day-to-day diabetes management routine:
|BGMs require you to prick your finger to obtain a blood sample which is then analyzed by the BGM device. The device provides a reading within a matter of seconds.||CGMs continuously take glucose readings from interstitial fluid.|
|The results from a BGM reflect blood glucose levels at a specific point in time (at the moment the test is taken).||Upon sensor insertion, no user action is required. CGM devices measure glucose anytime the sensor is worn and provide results every few minutes.|
|BGMs can identify immediate/acute changes in blood glucose levels.||Because glucose enters the bloodstream first (before interstitial fluid), CGM readings lag behind BGM readings by about 5–15 minutes.|
|BGMs are used as often as needed depending on your diabetes management plan.||Depending on the device, CGM sensors typically need to be replaced every seven to 14 days. If the sensor comes off, it can’t be reinserted.|
Blood Glucose Monitor vs. Continuous Glucose Monitor: FAQ
Q: How accurate are blood glucose monitors vs. continuous glucose monitors?
A: Both BGMs and CGMs are accurate for what it is they are measuring. Every FDA-cleared BGM and CGM device must meet specific accuracy requirements. However, it’s important to keep in mind that BGMs and CGMs are measuring two different things: blood glucose vs. glucose in interstitial fluid. While closely related to one another, they are different measurements.
Additionally, both devices are subject to possible user error. For example, with BGMs, inadequate or contaminated blood samples and expired or damaged test strips can lead to inaccurate results. With CGMs, insertion problems, a bad or miscalibrated sensor, and a detached sensor can lead to inaccurate results.
Q: Why are my CGM readings different from my BGM readings?
A: BGM and CGM readings are expected to be different. This is primarily because BGMs measure glucose levels in blood while CGMs measure glucose levels in interstitial fluid. Because glucose enters the bloodstream before diffusing from capillaries and then into interstitial fluid, CGM readings lag behind BGM readings by about 5–15 minutes. This lag time can vary between devices and is also influenced by factors such as food, exercise, and medications.
Q: Is it beneficial to have both a BGM and CGM device?
A: BGMs and CGMs complement each other. Many people who use CGMs also have a BGM. The primary reason for this is the calibration and ramp-up period many CGMs require.
To calibrate most CGMs, you need to use a blood glucose reading from a BGM. After calibrating, there is a ramp-up/warm-up period that can last anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours. During this time frame, BGMs are used to make sure glucose levels are within their target range.
Many people who use CGMs also like to have a BGM on hand in the event something goes wrong with their device. That way, they always have a means to monitor their glucose levels.
Q: Is a CGM or BGM better for older individuals?
A: Aging brings new challenges for all of us. For older adults that are struggling with forgetfulness severe enough to interfere with daily blood glucose monitoring, CGMs may be helpful for staying on track. Alternatively, many glucose monitoring apps for BGMs allow you to set reminders for glucose testing.
For seniors who are experiencing mobility and dexterity issues, a traditional BGM may not be ideal, as the user must manually load separate test strips and lancets into the device. However, an automatic, easy-to-use BGM for older individuals eliminates the need to handle separate components.
There is no “right” glucose monitoring solution for everyone. At the end of the day, it comes down to what works best for your unique diabetes management needs, abilities, lifestyle, and preference.
Simplifying Blood Glucose Monitoring with POGO Automatic®
Whether you want the flexibility to test glucose levels at your convenience, need a BGM to calibrate your CGM, or just want a backup monitoring solution, the POGO Automatic Monitor offers a fast, easy, and discreet way to check your blood glucose levels.
POGO Automatic is the first and only ABGM system with 10-cartridge technology that automatically lances and collects blood at the push of a button and is an innovative alternative to a traditional BGM. The lancets and test strips are built into 10-test cartridges, which means there’s only one thing to carry. You don't need to find a private place to test, keep track of multiple components, or track down a sharps container to dispose of materials.
To check your blood glucose, turn the monitor on and place your finger on the test port. The POGO Automatic Monitoring System will automatically lance, collect blood, and give you accurate results quickly.
POGO Automatic features Bluetooth connectivity and comes with the free Patterns® for POGO Automatic app. When your results are uploaded to the app, you can easily see trends and share data with your healthcare provider through the Patterns sharing circle feature. Patterns also imports data from several popular wellness apps, allowing you to better understand the relationships between your blood sugar and a range of health and lifestyle variables.
When evaluating a blood glucose monitor vs. continuous glucose monitor, make sure to talk with your healthcare provider about which solution works best for your diabetes management plan and lifestyle.
Robert Miller is a customer experience specialist committed to helping people navigate the world of diabetes. He focuses on finding innovative tools and strategies that make diabetes management easier to support long-term wellness.
All content on this website is for educational purposes only and does not replace the guidance of your healthcare practitioner. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new healthcare regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.
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