Today, there are more tools available to help people with diabetes monitor their glucose levels than ever before. With so many possibilities, it can be hard to know which is right for you. Looking at SMBG vs. CGM can help you understand your options and choose a monitoring method that fits your needs and your lifestyle.
What Is SMBG?
Self-monitoring of blood glucose (SMBG) refers to the act of checking blood glucose levels using a blood glucose meter (BGM). SMBG allows you to check your blood sugar via a simple finger prick test and helps you better understand how meals, activities, and lifestyle changes affect your glucose levels throughout the day. Your healthcare team can determine when and how often you should check your blood glucose, taking into account what type of diabetes you have and your treatment needs.
What Is CGM?
Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) refers to using a wearable device that continuously monitors glucose levels. 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.
Flash glucose monitoring is similar to CGM. A flash glucose monitor also uses a small sensor that you wear just under your skin (usually on the arm). Unlike with CGM, however, readings are not sent automatically. Instead, the sensor must be manually scanned with a reader or smartphone and will provide information about the current glucose and where it is heading as well as measurements preceding your current glucose value.
SMBG vs. CGM
When you look at SMBG vs. CGM, you’ll learn that both offer an effective approach to diabetes management. But one method may work better for your lifestyle than the other. Let’s explore the key differences in SMBG vs.CGM.
Self-Monitoring Blood Glucose (SMBG)
Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM)
|SMBG methods use finger pricking to obtain a blood sample, which is then analyzed by a BGM.||CGM uses a sensor inserted under the skin to take readings from the interstitial fluid (the fluid between blood vessels and cells) rather than from blood.|
|SBGM is ideal for accurately capturing immediate (acute) changes in your blood sugar levels.||Interstitial glucose readings lag behind blood glucose readings by about 5–15 minutes. This can be a significant drawback, especially when glucose levels change quickly, such as after eating, exercising, or treating low blood sugar.|
|SMBG results reflect glucose levels at the moment the test is taken.||CGM devices measure glucose anytime the sensor is worn and provide results every few minutes.|
|SMBG is used to check blood sugar as needed according to your treatment plan.||The sensor can be worn for extended periods and replaced every 7–14 days.
If a sensor is removed or falls off, it can’t be reinserted.
|User error, inadequate or contaminated blood samples, and expired or damaged test strips can lead to inaccurate results.||Insertion problems, a bad or miscalibrated sensor, detachment of the sensor, unusual immune response, and lag issues may lead to inaccurate results.|
|Some BGMs can be difficult to use quickly and discreetly because they require many steps, including handling separate lancets and test strips.||For several reasons, some people who try CGM don’t stay with it. Some don’t like wearing the device because it may be visible to others. Users may find it irritates their skin or have trouble keeping it in place (especially if they’re very active, as sweat and movement can compromise adhesion). Some tire of the frequent alarms and large amounts of data CGM provides.|
Frequent monitoring can help keep your sugar levels in check, improve overall glycemic control, and reduce diabetes complications. Each of the methods described above can offer an effective way to monitor glucose levels on your own. For many, SMBG vs. CGM ultimately comes down to personal preference.
If you experience finger prick anxiety, for example, you may prefer CGM. If wearing a device is uncomfortable or incompatible with your lifestyle, or you worry that others will see it, SBMG could be a better option.
Reimagining SMBG With the POGO Automatic® Blood Glucose Monitoring (ABGM) System
SMBG offers great flexibility, but the multistep process involved with some BGM test kits can be a hassle. The POGO Automatic Monitor offers a fast, easy, and discreet way to stay on track with SMBG and make the most of your results.
POGO Automatic is the first FDA-cleared all-in-one blood glucose monitor with 10-test technology that automatically lances and collects blood in one step. The lancets and test strips are built into 10-test cartridges, which means there’s only one thing to carry once you’ve loaded the cartridge into the monitor. 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. Instead, you can simply press the test port with your finger and get accurate results in seconds.
The POGO Automatic Monitor syncs with the Patterns® for POGO Automatic app via Bluetooth to ensure that you have your results at your fingertips anytime, anywhere you choose. Patterns lets you see your blood glucose trends, correlate your glucose levels with lifestyle variables, and share insights with your healthcare provider.
When deciding on SMBG vs. CGM, be sure to talk to your healthcare provider about which is most appropriate for your treatment plan and your preferences. With the right strategy, you can support glucose control and protect your health.
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.