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FreeStyle Libre 2

Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen MartinReviewed on 19.10.2023 | 3 minutes read

The FreeStyle Libre 2 system is designed as a flash glucose monitor for individuals with diabetes who need to regularly monitor their sugar (glucose) levels. It consists of two components: the FreeStyle Libre 2 sensor and reader.

The FreeStyle Libre 2 sensor is a small device that is applied to the back of the upper arm. It measures glucose levels in the interstitial fluid, which is a thin layer of fluid beneath the skin. The sensor continuously measures glucose levels throughout the day and night.

To obtain a glucose reading, you simply scan the sensor with the FreeStyle Libre 2 reader or use your smartphone with a compatible app. The reader or app displays the current glucose reading, as well as a trend arrow indicating the direction in which your glucose levels are heading. This information helps you make informed decisions about your diabetes management.

One of the key advantages of the FreeStyle Libre 2 system is that it eliminates the need for traditional finger pricking to obtain a blood sample. Instead, the sensor provides glucose readings through non-invasive means, making it more convenient and less painful for users.

The FreeStyle Libre 2 system provides valuable glucose data that can help you understand your glucose patterns, identify trends, and make adjustments to your diabetes management plan. It offers flexibility, convenience, and accuracy in monitoring your glucose levels, empowering you to take control of your diabetes effectively.

Diabetes is associated with high blood glucose levels. This occurs when you're not producing enough of a hormone called insulin (type 1), or your insulin is not working properly (type 2). Self-monitoring of glucose levels is mainly for people with type 1 diabetes. However, it can be beneficial for some people with type 2 diabetes. For example, people using insulin or other medications that carry the risk of causing low blood glucose levels (hypoglycemia).

How do I use the FreeStyle Libre 2?

Attach the FreeStyle Libre 2 sensor to your arm using the applicator. The sensor is small and discreet; you can scan it through your clothing. It is water-resistant so you can wear it in the bath, shower, and during swimming and other exercises. You should wear it continuously day and night. You must replace the sensor every 14 days.

You should scan the sensor with your FreeStyle Libre 2 reader or your smartphone using the FreeStyle LibreLink app to obtain a reading. When you scan the sensor, you can see your current glucose reading, your readings for the last 8 hours, and a trend arrow to show your glucose level. There is also an alarm system available that you can use to warn you when your glucose level is too high or too low.

It is best to speak with your doctor before using the product. Your doctor will tell you when and how often you should monitor your blood glucose levels.

How does the FreeStyle Libre 2 measure sugar levels?

The FreeStyle Libre 2 sensor does not measure your blood glucose levels directly. Instead, it measures the amount of glucose in the interstitial fluid surrounding the tissue cells below your skin. Glucose moves from your blood into your interstitial fluid, so there is a delay in the blood glucose reading by just over two minutes compared to a finger-prick test.

Who should not use a FreeStyle Libre 2?

Sometimes you may need to use a finger-prick test instead of the FreeStyle Libre 2 sensor to provide a more accurate result. For example, suppose your glucose levels are changing rapidly. In that case, your symptoms do not align with the sensor readings, or the sensor shows that you have or are about to have hypoglycemia. Also, children under four years old should not use the product. Use a prick test instead of the FreeStyle Libre 2 sensor to provide a more accurate result.

How can I get one?

FreeStyle Libre 2 reader and sensors are available to buy and are also on prescription for those eligible. If you are interested, you should speak with your doctor about this before buying as there may be more suitable alternatives for you.

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This article has been written by UK-based doctors and pharmacists, so some advice may not apply to US users and some suggested treatments may not be available. For more information, please see our T&Cs.
Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed on 19.10.2023
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