I have Type 1 diabetes, which means my body doesn't produce any insulin. So I have to inject insulin to regulate my blood sugar and check my levels by using a glucometer. This means I have to stick my finger with a needle anywhere from 5 to 10 times a day.
Dexcom provided me with a review unit of its new G6 continuous glucose monitor that's approved by the FDA to require no blood at all.
CGMs allow diabetics to see their blood sugar throughout the day and night with a sensor that is inserted under the skin. Previously, CGMs needed a blood glucose reading in order to calibrate the device.
The new Dexcom G6 comes factory-calibrated and requires no finger stick. I've been wearing the device for nine days and I am really impressed with it.
The G6 comes with a new auto-applicator that allows one-button insertion. And wow, was it smooth. I didn't feel a thing.
This is a huge improvement from Dexcom G5 inserter that required you to push the needle under the skin yourself. It's definitely the most painless thing I've had to put in my body in the 20 years of using syringes, insulin pens and pumps.
The insertion device itself is big. And I did feel bad about throwing it away after its one-time use. But because the device is so accurate, I don't need to check my blood sugar as much, which means I've been using fewer glucose strips in my meter. So I feel it will even out in the end.
After the sensor finished its two-hour warm up, I double-checked the reading it gave me with my glucometer. It was 25 points off.
Now I did just finish a workout, which is a highly volatile time for my blood sugars usually. But even when I checked before going to bed that night, it was still 20 points off. As I used it, the number got closer and closer to accurate, and by day 3 it was matching my meter exactly. On the fifth day of using it, I found myself not worrying about double-checking it anymore.
The sensor now lasts 10 days instead of 7. Some users like to reuse G5 and previous sensors to cut on costs of buying more. But the G6 has a hard shut off after 10 days and can't be re-used.
Looking at the G5 and G6 transmitters side by side, they don't look that different. But once I have the transmitter snapped into the sensor it felt much smaller. The design is sleeker with a 28% lower profile and it sits flush against the sensor. I found it much easier to sleep on it than the previous versions.
If you had a G5, you'll have to download the new G6 app. It looks pretty much the same. The numbers are a little smaller. At first, I found it harder to read than the old app.
This version has a new feature called Urgent Low Soon that warns users in advance of a dangerous low (55 mg/dL). I appreciated this feature a lot because some lows aren't as urgent as others.
It also features an alert schedule that allows you to customize alerts and alarms for different times of the day. These alerts notify you when you are heading high or low.
You can still share your data with 5 other people, which is a must-have feature for parents of children with Type 1. The app is available on iOS and most Android devices.
If you don't use the app, the G6 comes with a new receiver. Since I use my phone to monitor the sensor, I didn't even take the receiver out of the box.
It is hard to say how much the G6 system will cost you, as it will vary under different insurance plans. Dexcom also accepts out-of-pocket payments, and while the company hasn't revealed the price yet, my G5 costs around $800 up front plus $35 for each sensor, so you can expect to spend a couple thousand dollars a year total.
But I think the benefit of having one outweighs the cost.
Being able to peer inside your body and know what your blood sugar is 24/7 is amazing feature, and this device allows me to do it more discreetly and with fewer finger pricks. It's the best CGM I've ever tried and I think that you'll like it too.
All this being said — if your glucose alerts and readings from the G6 do not match symptoms or expectations, use a blood glucose meter to make diabetes treatment decisions.
The Dexcom G6 Continuous Glucose Monitoring System will be available in June 2018.