What is Flash Glucose Monitoring?
Flash Glucose Monitoring is a small sensor that you wear on your skin. It stores your blood glucose (also known as blood sugar) levels continuously and you can access them by scanning the sensor whenever you want to.
There is only one Flash Glucose Monitor manufactured at the moment.
How does it work?
A Flash Glucose Monitor has two parts:
- A sensor that sits just underneath your skin and measures your sugar levels
- A reader that you swipe over the sensor to get both your blood glucose level and the trend of your levels
Each time you scan your sensor, you can access the last eight hours sugar levels. Flash Glucose Monitoring also comes with software so you can analyse your results and see patterns in your blood sugar levels.
You generally wear a sensor for about 14 days, after that you need to insert a new one. The sensor doesn’t actually measure your blood sugar level, it measures the amount of glucose in the fluid that surrounds your body cells (called “interstitial fluid”). Glucose levels in the interstitial fluid lag behind glucose levels in your blood by up to 5 minutes, and the lag time is longest if your blood sugar level is changing rapidly, eg after eating or if you are exercising. For this reason you need to do a finger prick blood sugar check if you’re thinking of changing your treatment (eg taking more insulin or treating a hypo).
You don’t need to calibrate a Flash glucose monitor.
What’s the difference between Flash Glucose Monitoring and Continuous Glucose Monitoring?
CGM monitors your blood sugar level continuously and sends data to your display device (a hand held monitor or pump). So you can set alerts for high, low or rate of change. With Flash Glucose Monitoring it’s only when you scan your sensor that you get your reading and trends.
Advantages of using a Flash Glucose Monitor:
- You don’t need to do so many finger prick checks.
- You can see trends: when your blood sugar levels are starting to rise or drop, so you can take action earlier.
- It can give you more confidence in managing your diabetes as you have more data to base decisions on.
- You can improve your diabetes management as you have more information about when you’re high and low.
- You can see what your levels are like at times when you don’t normally test, eg during the night (either by looking back at your own data or scanning someone else’s sensor while they’re asleep).
Disadvantages of using a Flash Glucose Monitor:
- You can’t set an alarm for high or low blood sugar levels, so it won’t help you recognise a hypo.
- You can get overloaded with data, which can confuse or worry you.
- You still need to do some finger prick checks.
- You may find wearing the sensor irritating or unsightly.
How can I get it?
From November 2017, Flash Glucose Monitoring can be prescribed across the UK.
We believe everyone with diabetes should have access to the right technology to support them, not just those who can afford it. That’s why we campaigned with you, to fight for Flash Glucose Monitoring to be free on the NHS. And together, we made change happen.
But the fight is only just beginning. It’s now up to local health decision makers to create local policies so people can access this technology, wherever they live.
We make change happen when we fight together. Find out more about our Flash campaign.