FreeStyle Libre is a continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) system. It uses a sensor to read and check a person’s glucose levels. People with diabetes can use FreeStyle Libre to help manage the condition.
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FreeStyle Libre is a product that the healthcare company Abbott makes. The company’s headquarters are in Illinois, making various medical devices and health-related products.
Abbott has an average customer rating of 1.3 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot, with 82% of the reviews only awarding the company 1 star. Many of these negative reviews mention poor customer service.
At the time of publishing, 5% of the 1,180 reviews give the company 4 or 5 stars. These reviews say that the company is reputable and the products are of good quality.
Abbott also has a Better Business Bureau (BBB) page but does not have BBB accreditation. The company has an average customer rating of 1.07 out of 5 stars and an overall grade of B. It has closed 106 complaints in the last 3 years.
Many complaints are about the device needing to be fixed, such as not holding charge or giving incorrect readings.
The FreeStyle Libre is an integrated continuous glucose monitoring system (iCGM). Depending on where a person places the device, it takes readings via a sensor on the arm or belly. It then automatically transmits them to a handheld receiver.
The company claims that its sensors are comfortable to wear and less bulky than other brands of CGM sensors.
Abbott also says that this sensor provides a reading every minute and has a life span of 14 days. People can apply this sensor without the help of a medical professional.
This model is suitable for any adult or child ages 4 years and above.
Each FreeStyle Libre comes with a compatible reader. A person simply scans the sensor with the reader, and the details will appear on the screen.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved both the sensor and reader. However, the FDA is currently reviewing a compatible smartphone app that will allow customers to view readings on their phones instead.
There are also optional alarm notifications. A person can customize these alarms and choose which they would like to receive. These alarms can be for low or high glucose warnings or for loss of signal between the reader and sensor.
FreeStyle Libre’s 14-day system
There is also a FreeStyle Libre 14-day system model. Based on the information on the website, it appears that this model is similar to the FreeStyle Libre 2.
People can wear the sensor on the back of their upper arm. This model comes with a flexible filament that goes beneath the skin to measure glucose levels.
The manufacturer states that the sensor is small and painless to apply. It is water-resistant, so individuals do not have to remove it if they are swimming or showering. They can wear it for up to 14 days.
It is compatible with the Freestyle LibreLink app so users can track their readings on their smartphone.
The app provides current glucose readings and has a text-to-speech option. It also allows users to add information about the food they have eaten and any exercise programs.
The website is vague about the exact cost of the products. However, the company does say that they cost less than most CGM systems. It also claims that privately insured patients typically pay up to $60 a month for the sensors and no more than $65 for the readers.
People enrolled in Medicare may be able to get their readers for free.
Additionally, the Department of Veterans Affairs covers the 14-day system for veterans.
A person may be eligible to receive either product for free for a trial if they sign up for the MyFreeStyle program.
Many alternative CGMs are available. Some examples include:
- Dexcom G6: The Dexcom G6 sensor for this device goes just under the skin. People apply it with an auto-applicator. Each sensor lasts for 10 days and is compatible with smartphones and Apple watches. The device also comes with a reader for those who do not wish to use their phone.
- Eversense: A healthcare professional must insert the Eversense CGM, which a person can use for 90 days. Users can receive their readings via the companion reader or on their smartphone.
- Guardian Connect System: The Guardian Connect System is another sensor that is compatible with a smartphone app. It gives predictive alerts by analyzing previous glucose levels and working out when a person may get a high or low glucose level reading.
As an alternative to CGMs, a person can test their blood glucose levels using a lancet and blood sugar meter. They use the lancet to obtain a small blood sample, typically from their finger, which they then test using a blood sugar meter.
Learn more about blood sugar monitors here.
Below is a comparison between FreeStyle Libre and other CGMs.
|Location||Glucose reading frequency||Sensor lifespan||App compatibility|
|FreeStyle Libre||back of upper arm||1 minute||up to 14 days||yes|
|Dexcom G6||back of upper arm, abdomen, or upper buttocks||5 minutes||up to 10 days||yes|
|Eversense||upper arm||every 5 minutes||up to 6 months||yes|
|Guardian Connect System||arm or abdomen||every 5 minutes||up to 6 days||yes|
In people with diabetes, the body either does not make enough insulin or does not use it properly. This means that blood glucose levels can become very high or very low, leading to adverse health effects.
Therefore, checking these levels is an important way to manage diabetes. Glucose levels influence what a person eats and a person’s exercise routine.
- have a family history of the condition
- have prediabetes
- are overweight or have obesity
- are aged 45 years or older
- do not exercise regularly
- have had gestational diabetes or given birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds
The CDC notes that there’s a higher prevalence of diabetes in people who are African American, Hispanic, Latin American, Native American, or Alaskan Native. Additionally, some individuals who are Pacific Islander or Asian Americans are more likely to receive a diabetes diagnosis.
A combination of factors, collectively referred to as social determinants of health, likely play a significant role in disproportionate diagnosis rates of diabetes in certain populations.
The symptoms of hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, include:
Hypoglycemia is the official name for low blood glucose. In severe cases, it can be life threatening.
The symptoms can often come on very quickly. Some mild-to-moderate symptoms may include:
- pale skin
- lack of coordination
- irritability or nervousness
- poor concentration
- fast or irregular heartbeat
Severe symptoms may include not being able to eat or drink, seizures, convulsions, and unconsciousness. If a person with diabetes has any symptoms of hypoglycemia, urgent medical help is necessary.
These are commonly asked questions about FreeStyle Libre.
What is the monthly cost of FreeStyle Libre?
FreeStyle Libre claims that its monitors are more affordable than other companies. People with private health insurance can expect to pay up to $60 per month for their sensors. There may also be an extra fee for the prescription.
Does the FreeStyle Libre puncture the skin?
Freestyle Libre’s 14-day device uses a small needle to attach to the skin. However, according to the company, the process is painless, and the needle is removed.
How do I get FreeStyle Libre for free?
Individuals may get their FreeStyle Libre device for free if they enroll in the MyFreeStyle program. This program provides information on how they can track their progress, interpret their readings, and the food groups they can include in their diet.
According to the company website, veterans can also get their FreeStyle Libre device at no cost.
Additionally, people who qualify for Medicare may also receive full payment coverage for the readers.
What’s the difference between FreeStyle Libre and Dexcom?
There are some differences between FreeStyle Libre and Dexcom, including:
- FreeStyle Libre devices stick to the back of the upper arm, while Dexcom G6 attaches to the back of the upper arm, abdomen, or buttocks.
- FreeStyle Libre offers glucose readings every minute, and Dexcom offers readings every 5 minutes.
- The Freestyle Libre sensor lifespan is 14 days, while the Dexcom G6 sensor lifespan is 10 days.
Also, Dexcom G6 comes with a sensor, transmitter, and receiver. Freestyle Libre offers a sensor and reader.
Freestyle Libre by Abbott is a CGM device that allows people with diabetes to monitor their blood glucose levels.
It uses a small round sensor that takes a reading every minute. People wear it for 14 days and can check their blood glucose levels using the included compatible reader.
However, the company has a mixed reputation online.