The FreeStyle Libre System is a continuous shoulder glucose monitor (CGM) that provides detailed blood glucose (blood sugar) readings for people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes , especially those who take insulin .
You can choose one of the Freestyle Libre systems:
- The original Freestyle Libre 14 Day system (approved for adults 18+)
- Freestyle Libre 2 system (approved for adults and children from 4 years old)
People who monitor their blood sugar frequently have been reported to have lower A1C levels (a measure of the average glucose level over two to three months) and more stable glucose levels.
But traditional screening requires multiple finger pricks to draw blood, which is then tested every day. This can be time consuming, inconvenient, and aggressive.
CGM devices like FreeStyle Libre can greatly improve this process.
How FreeStyle Libre works
The FreeStyle Libre System uses state-of-the-art technology to provide real-time glucose readings every minute using a pre-calibrated sensor.
These devices, two of several in the new generation of CGM, do not have the bulky CGM transmitter of the past. Instead, they use a small waterproof sensor that is inserted (with the supplied applicator) just under the skin on the back of the hand. This sensor measures interstitial fluid (fluid in the space around cells), which is comparable to capillary blood.
When you scan your sensor with the Freestyle Libre Reader, your blood glucose reading will be logged and logged. You will be able to see both individual readings and trends over time.
FreeStyle Libre 2 has an alarm to notify you if your glucose levels are too high or too low, but you must activate them. Your reader must also be within 20 feet of you to receive them.
Please note that the original FreeStyle Libre does not have this alarm feature and has not been evaluated for use by people who are not suspected of hypoglycemia (meaning they cannot recognize the symptoms of a sudden drop in blood sugar).
Free can store results for 90 days and can be used for up to 14 days, after which it stops working and must be discarded and replaced.
You cannot use a meter to test for ketones.
How often should the sensor be scanned?
After a one-hour start-up period, you can instantly get your blood glucose reading by scanning the sensor with your reader or smartphone app.
You can scan as many times as you like, but to collect all the data, it is recommended to scan the sensor at least once every eight hours.
Research from Abbott, the maker of FreeStyle Libre, has shown that people using the sensor scan the sensor more often than they check their blood sugar with a prick, giving them more accurate readings.
The system eliminates finger sticks during calibration, reducing manual effort.
It is not only more convenient, but also painless. This can encourage patients to read more often (or as recommended if they haven't already), especially those who hate traditional tests.
Additionally, a wealth of data and trend reports can help people with diabetes reduce their risk of hypoglycemia and help them determine their insulin dose and meal planning.
All of these can lead to better diabetes treatment.
When Manual Testing May Be Needed
Sometimes there are inaccuracies in the CGM. In particular, this can happen:
- During rapid changes in blood glucose, such as after eating, taking insulin, or exercising.
- With severe dehydration and excessive loss of water.
For this reason, the Libre reader also has a blood glucose meter in the system. This allows you to perform a finger prick and a blood test if you need to verify the accuracy of the CGM reading.
Other cases where fingerprint analysis is necessary:
- If you are using the FreeStyle Libre 14 Day System and have symptoms of too high or too low blood sugar (as there are no alarms to call your attention to this reading)
- When FreeStyle Libre warns you that it cannot determine where your glucose is changing (you will see a warning symbol on the reader's screen if this happens)
If you are using the original FreeStyle Libre and you detect too high or too low blood sugar, set a reminder on the reader to re-scan the sensor soon (a message will appear on the screen).
Availability and cost
FreeStyle Libre systems are available at pharmacies nationwide by prescription.
For people with private insurance or Medicaid, FreeStyle Libre can cost between $ 40 and $ 75 per month. The device is fully covered by Medicare for those who qualify. Some patients can take advantage of Abbott's free trial offer .
In addition to the cost of the device, FreeStyle Libre uses test strips called Precision Neo test strips (for fingerstick tests). Typically, a box of 50 strips costs about $ 20.
They are individually wrapped in foil so they can be used before their expiration date. Using other test strips with the built-in meter may cause an error, start the test, or cause the test to not rotate.
Comparison with other devices
The FreeStyle Libre device is called the Instant Glucose Monitoring System. Compared to other CGMs like the Dexcom G6, the Libre system checks your glucose every minute, not every five minutes, and can be used for 14 days instead of 10.
It is very accurate and does not require finger calibration. And since Libre doesn't require a transmitter, its price and sensors are lower compared to other CGMs.
While other CGMs are approved for placement on the stomach and buttocks, FreeStyle Libre is approved for the back of the hand only. If it is placed in other places, the sensor may not work properly.
Storage is important to protect the sensor and ensure maximum accuracy of readings.
The FreeStyle Libre Kit should be stored between 39 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit for 14 days. The FreeStyle Libre 2 kit should be stored between 36 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit.
Both Libre units should be stored in a non-condensing humidity range of 10% to 90%. If your refrigerator meets these criteria, you can certainly keep a kit there.
Frequently asked questions
FreeStyle Libre is a continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) device used by people who require insulin for diabetes. FreeStyle Libre 14-Day is approved for people over 18 years old, and FreeStyle Libre 2 is approved for adults and children over 4 years old.
FreeStyle Libre achieves 92.8% accuracy, according to a 2019 study published in the journal Diabetes .
You can buy FreeStyle Libre online, as well as in many drug stores and supermarkets. You will need a prescription to purchase the device, whether you have insurance or are going to pay out of pocket.
In addition to the FreeStyle Libre, there are three other FDA-approved continuous glucose monitoring devices:
- Dexcom G6 CGM – Skin sensing device approved for children ages 2 and up.
- Eversense CGM : implantable sensor device approved for children 18 years of age and older.
- Medtronic Guardian Connect – Skin sensing device approved for children ages 14-75.
FreeStyle Libre is less expensive than Dexcom G6 and Medtronic Guardian Connect and does not require daily calibration. Check your glucose every minute, not every five minutes or more for other devices. The FreeStyle Libre 14-Day, on the other hand, does not have a high / low glucose alarm.