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The FreeStyle Libre Sensor system is a flash glucose monitoring system. It quickly scans the amount of glucose in the blood without the need of a traditional finger prick test.
For people with diabetes, who need their blood glucose levels monitored on a daily basis, it can make the process faster, easier, less invasive and painless.
In people with diabetes, glucose (sugar) struggles to get to the cells which need it for energy, due to an impairment or lack of insulin. Insulin is a hormone which helps to transfer glucose from the blood stream into the cells.
Unlike traditional finger prick monitors, which measure the amount of glucose in the blood, the FreeStyle Libre system measures the glucose in the interstitial fluid.
While cells are packed tightly together, they reside in a substance called interstitial fluid - the word interstice means a small space or gap. The glucose exits the bloodstream and into the interstitial fluid. From there insulin, which binds to the cell's membrane receptors, transports the glucose from the interstitial fluid and into the cell.
The FreeStyle Libre Sensor continuously tracks the changes in the amount of glucose present in the interstitial fluid. By scanning the sensor with a reader (not included) or an NFC enabled smartphone, you can see whether your blood sugars are rising or falling so that you can manage your condition more effectively.
You should speak to your doctor or diabetes nurse before you buy FreeStyle Libre online. They will be able to help you determine whether the FreeStyle Libre Sensor system is suitable for you and your lifestyle. Furthermore, your doctor may wish to track your blood glucose levels remotely - your doctor will discuss this with you.
You can buy the FreeStyle Libre Sensors online from Prescription Doctor following an online consultation.
The FreeStyle Libre system utilises near field communication (NFC) to wirelessly transmit data about your blood glucose levels. There are two parts to the FreeStyle Libre system - the Sensor and the Reader.
The Sensors are small plastic disks - about the size of a £2 coin - which are affixed to the rear of the upper arm with an adhesive backing. The adhesive keeps the sensor in place to prevent it from falling off.
Each sensor has a small, thin, flexible fibre which penetrates 5mm into the skin. The fibre is a mere 0.4mm in diameter. In studies, most people reported that they couldn't feel the needle inside them once applied. The fibre monitors the interstitial fluids which surrounds cells to track the changes in glucose levels. Interstitial fluids can give a good indication of how much glucose is being used by the cells.
Scanning the sensor 3 times a day will give you a 24-hour picture of your blood glucose levels, though you can scan the sensor as often as you'd like. The sensor can store up to 8 hours of data.
Unlike finger prick test strips (sometimes called fingersticks), the FreeStyle Libre Sensors are factory calibrated and ready to use right away. Due to the manufacturing process, the sensors are very accurate and there is little deviation in accuracy from one FreeStyle Libre Sensor to the next.
The sensor is scanned with a special reader which provides a graphical indication of your blood sugar levels. To scan the sensor using the reader, simply hold the reader approximately 1 to 4 centimetres above the sensor for a second. The sensor can even be scanned through clothing.
The Reader has a colour, backlit, touchscreen display. Not only is the screen easy to view in low light, it's also intuitive to use.
When you scan the sensor using the reader, the data will appear, including the current blood glucose level (in mmol), whether your blood glucose level is rising or falling, a graph showing your previous blood sugar levels, and even an estimated indication of how much insulin remains in your body. You can also add further information on the reader, including notes about what you ate or exercise to did and whether you are taking long-acting or short-acting insulin.
If the device suspects hypo- or hyperglycaemia, you should confirm this is the case with a traditional finger prick blood glucose test. At the base of the reader you'll find a FreeStyle Neo test strip port, which is compatible with FreeStyle Optium test strips.
On the front of the device, you'll find a single blue button which is used to interface with the reader. The button is used as a "home" and "back" button, while also acting as the power button to turn the reader on and off.
The Reader has a rechargeable lithium-ion battery which can be charged using the micro-USB port located on the side of the unit. Under normal use, the internal battery lasts for 7 days.
If you have an NFC-enabled smartphone, you can use the FreeStyle LibreLink mobile app to scan your sensor. The FreeStyle LibreLink app contains the same features as the FreeStyle Libre Reader, minus the ability to read FreeStyle Optium test strips.
See the table below for supported devices.
|Model||Must have NFC||iPhone 7 or higher|
|OSes||Android 5.0 (Lollipop) or higher||iOS 11 or higher|
To use your smartphone to scan the sensor, open the FreeStyle LibreLink app and hover your smartphone between 1cm and 5cm above the sensor. Your reading should appear on your phone screen.
You can use the app to add notes and view changes just like on the reader.
Using the FreeStyle Libre flash glucose monitoring system is relatively easy. Full instructions on how to use the sensors and reader can be found in the supporting documentation supplied with the device. You should retain the instructions for future reference.
A starter pack is available, which contains everything you need including:
Watch the tutorial below to see how easy it is to get started using the FreeStyle Libre flash glucose monitoring system.
Sensors are applied using a special applicator, which is supplied with the sensors.
The sensor should be applied to clean and clear skin.
Avoid applying the sensor to oily skin. If your skin is oily, use some soap and water to wash the application site before wiping it down with an alcohol wipe and allow the area to dry.
Ensure the application site is void of cuts, scratches or other lesions.
Body hair can become caught in-between the adhesive and the skin, which can make applying and removing the sensor difficult. Therefore, it is recommended to shave the area before attaching the sensor.
Further information about sticking the sensor to your skin can be found here.
Here's how to apply the sensor:
The sensor has a 1-hour warm-up period. This means that you should wait an hour after applying the sensor before taking a reading. The sensor may not produce an accurate reading during this time.
You should keep the sensor on your arm for 14 days (2 weeks).
Further information on how to apply the sensor can be found in the supporting literature provided with your product.
Once the sensor is applied, scanning it is easy.
Start by turning on the reader (by pressing the button on the front of the device) or launch the mobile app.
If the sensor is newly applied, you will need to tap "Start new sensor".
To scan the sensor, simply hold the device (FreeStyle Libre Reader or NFC-enabled smartphone) within 4cm above the device. The device should show the reading.
You should scan the sensor at least once every 8 hours, though it is often recommended to scan the sensor 6 times a day to keep track of your blood sugar levels.
You should replace your sensor after 14 days (2 weeks).
To remove your sensor, gently lift the edge of the adhesive pad and slowly peel away the sensor in one smooth motion. Do not rip the sensor off quickly.
You may notice some residual glue left over once the adhesive pad has been removed. This remaining adhesive can be removed with baby oil, UNI-SOLVE Adhesive Remover or Remove Adhesive Remover.
Discard of the sensor in a sharps bin. Do not dispose of the sensor via general household or water waste.
If you forget to apply the sensor when you should, apply it as soon as you remember.
If your sensor comes off, simply apply a new sensor and scan it. The device will recognised it as a new sensor.
FreeStyle Libre Sensors have not been evaluated for patients on dialysis or fitted with pacemakers. If either of these situations apply to you, speak to your doctor first before you buy a FreeStyle Libre Sensor system online.
The sensor is kept on for 14 days (2 weeks). After 14 days, you should remove the sensor and apply a new one.
You can only wear the sensor on the back of the upper arm. You may find it easier to put the sensor on your non-dominant arm to make scanning the sensor easier.
In studies, most users could not feel the needle of the sensor inside them. They also reported that it didn't feel uncomfortable.
The FreeStyle Libre Sensor is very accurate in most situations. However, a finger prick glucose test may be required in the case of rapidly changing blood glucose levels, or when your symptoms do not match the reading of the sensor.
You can take as many readings of the sensor as you want. For a full 24-hour glycaemic picture, you should scan the sensor at least once every 8 hours.
The sensor packaging can be discarded in general waste. However, the sensor itself and the sensor applicator both contain needles and need to be discarded of safely in a sharps bin.
You can wear the sensor while bathing, showering, swimming or exercising, but you need to be cautious. Do not submerge the sensor in water deeper than 3 feet (1 meter) for more than 30 minutes. Take care when dressing, washing and drying the skin around the sensor so as not to accidentally peel it off.
No, the FreeStyle Libre flash glucose monitoring system is not the same as a CGM.
CGM systems continuously display your blood sugar levels on a receiver, while flash glucose monitors only show the glucose level when you scan the sensor with a Reader.
You can buy the FreeStyle Libre Sensors online from Prescription Doctor's UK based GPhC registered pharmacy.
Our doctor's are on hand to ensure the device is safe for you. All items available from our online private pharmacy service are approved by the MHRA and are dispatched from our brick and mortar pharmacy via a next-day, discreet delivery service to ensure your confidentiality.
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