Glucose monitoring without skin prick
Glucose monitoring without skin prick

Flash glucose monitors are a way of measuring your sugar levels without having to prick your fingers. There is only one flash glucose monitor manufactured at the moment. This is called the Freestyle Libre.

What is flash glucose monitoring?

A flash glucose monitor is a small sensor that you wear just under your skin. We call it Flash for short.

It records your glucose (sugar) levels continuously throughout the day and night. You can find out your levels by scanning the sensor whenever you want to.

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. There is a small time delay when checking this fluid, especially after eating or if you’re exercising. So your flash glucose monitor result isn’t always exactly the same as your finger-prick result.

This means you’ll still need to do a finger-prick check if you’re thinking of changing your treatment at any point, like if you need to take more insulin or if you’re treating a hypo, so you can get the most accurate result.

You need to meet one or more of these:

  • You have Type 1 diabetes and you need to check your blood sugar level more than eight times a day.
  • You have Type 1 and have previously paid for Flash and can show it has improved your HbA1c.
  • You have Type 1 and have severe hypos or have reduced hypo awareness.
  • You have Type 1 and are unable to test regularly due to a disability.
  • You’re a pregnant woman with Type 1 diabetes.
  • You have cystic fibrosis-related diabetes and you take insulin.
  • You have another type of diabetes that you treat with insulin and you’re also on haemodialysis, which is a procedure that takes over kidney function when your kidneys aren’t working. You’ll also need to show that you have to check your blood sugars more than eight times a day to keep your blood sugar levels in your target range.
  • You work somewhere that your diabetes team have said isn’t appropriate for finger-pricking. Or there are emotional or social factors that mean you can’t prick your finger. Both of these cases mean you can have a six-month trial of Flash.

If you meet any of these criteria, you must also:

  • learn how to use Flash with a healthcare professional
  • agree to check your levels eight or more times a day and use the sensor 70% of the time when you check
  • agree to regular reviews with your local diabetes team.

Go to NHS England to find out more about the criteria and if you meet them.

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