Abbott launched their new sensor technology for measuring glucose levels in Diabetes, about a year ago. The device was created for testing glucose levels in a less painful and more efficient way, avoiding the finger prick on a daily basis. Whilst this device has been available for a few months, it is now being distributed in hospitals to Diabetic patients for a free 2-week trial, including myself.
Living with Type 1 Diabetes is not the easiest thing in the world. It’s a world of constant worry and constant checking. Unfortunately, most Diabetics must check their glucose levels by pricking the tips of their fingers and squeezing their finger until some blood rushes out so that they can apply it to a test strip and then receive their result. This may not sound too daunting, but doing it several times a day can be frustrating and painful. The FreeStyle Libre Flash Glucose Monitoring System, developed by Abbott, can be used by adults and children (aged 4 years and older) living with either type 1 or type 2 Diabetes and they can now monitor their glucose levels without the pain of pricking their fingers, which is particularly beneficial for children. “One of the hardest parts of living with diabetes is the constant monitoring of glucose levels. Sticking a lancet into my finger a few times a day is very painful – and it’s awkward in work and social situations,” said GAA Star, Kevin Nolan.
I have been using the FreeStyle Libre for a couple of days and so far I have seen many benefits but also some drawbacks. First, I will explain how it works. The sensor can only be placed on the upper arm, so my doctor advised I placed it where it would be most comfortable on my upper arm. I decided to place it on the inside of my arm where it would not be very noticeable or become much of a nuisance to me. The sensor is quite small itself and contains a small needle that must be inserted into your arm, but it is relatively painless. The sensor can then be connected to a glucose meter and scanned to check your blood sugar level. Each scan includes a real-time glucose reading, a historical trend and the direction the glucose is heading and if it’s rising or falling fast or steadily. It almost sounds too good to be true, right? Well, it is.
The sensor lasts 14 days. This means that after 14 days, the sensor will stop working and must be removed. The issue that comes with this is that it costs 60 euro to order a new sensor. I don’t think that many people are willing to pay 60 euro every two weeks for this system. While it is great and makes life a lot easier, it is just too expensive for everyday people living with a long-term illness and I would say this is its biggest drawback at the moment. However, Research Manager of Diabetes Ireland, Dr Anna Clarke said: “Many parents of children with Type 1 Diabetes or adults with Type 1 have been waiting for this new technology to become available. At this time it is available to purchase but we do hope it will be available to purchase under the GMS system in the coming months.”
That being said, FreeStyle Libre has been extremely useful in measuring and controlling glucose levels. Instead of waking up at night and being too tired to get up and prick your finger, I am now able to take my glucose meter and scan it on the sensor without any hassle and receive results in seconds. Not only has it made checking glucose levels easier, but it has also made it safer and faster to deal with a high or low blood sugar, possibly saving some lives.
Prepared and edited by @EdinaZejnilovic, Journalism Student at DCU