Regularly testing blood sugar levels (glucose) is commonplace for those living with diabetes. Routine testing allows individuals to see how different foods, activities, and medications are affecting their blood sugar levels. It also helps establish a baseline for doctors to reference so they understand what can help their patients better manage the condition.
However, not all glucose monitors are created equal.
One option is the small, portable device known as glucometers. Blood sugar levels are monitored at the individual’s discretion — usually with a small prick to the finger and a small drop of blood to be inserted into the reader.
But, there is a better way to monitor blood sugar levels. Continuous glucose monitoring devices help make glucose monitoring more manageable. It virtually takes away the painful pricks and can monitor glucose levels 24 hours a day.
One company looking to help individuals with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes better monitor their glucose levels is Dexcom. Their continuous glucose monitoring device, the Dexcom G6, helps individuals stay in control of their diabetes — without the finger pricks.
But, does Dexcom’s device measure up to all the other options out thre? Is their system an effective way to monitor glucose levels?
Stick around for an honest review as we help you determine whether Dexcom is right for you.
Diabetes and Glucose Monitoring
Diabetes affects millions of people in the United States. In fact, according to statistics put out by the American Diabetes Association, diabetes affects roughly 10.5 percent of the population — that’s over 34 million Americans.
More and more cases pop up more every year in the United States, with prediabetes becoming more prevalent, even among younger people. Diabetes is also responsible for billions in medical costs every year.
Diabetes is also the seventh leading cause of death in the United States and the number one cause for kidney failure. So, it is clear that diabetes is an extremely prevalent and serious health condition. But what is it exactly?
What Is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic, metabolic health condition that affects how the body converts food into energy. In short, diabetes impacts insulin production and sensitivity, which are both essential for how the body converts sugar (glucose) into energy.
Many with diabetes simply do not produce enough insulin (or any at all), which causes glucose levels in the bloodstream to stay high, causing numerous health issues. There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2.
Type 1 diabetes, sometimes called juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic condition where the body does not produce insulin. It is thought to be an autoimmune disorder.
Individuals are typically diagnosed early in life as children, teens, or young adults. Since there is no cure, individuals with Type 1 diabetes must take insulin every day to help manage the condition. Constant glucose monitoring is also essential.
Type 2 diabetes can develop at any age, with many recent cases developing due to lifestyle habits (e.g. poor diet and no exercise). In Type 2 diabetes, the body does not use insulin efficiently enough to keep blood sugar levels in check.
The good news is, Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed if the symptoms are caught early enough, i.e. if lifestyle changes are made at the diagnosis of prediabetes. Simple changes include a healthy diet, exercise, losing weight, and more. This condition is also managed through medication and glucose monitoring.
Continuous Glucose Monitoring Devices
While continual finger sticks are standard for most glucose monitoring devices, continuous glucose monitoring devices rely on a sensor that lies just under the skin.
This implantable sensor measures blood glucose levels in the interstitial fluid (i.e. the flood between cells) and remotely transmits the data to a monitor (wearable device, phone app, etc.).
These types of devices allow users to more accurately measure glucose levels over a longer period of time.
The Dexcom G6 is one of these types of monitoring devices.
A Quick Look at Dexcom
Based out of San Diego, Dexcom hit the ground running in 1999. Through the early 2000s, three generations of Dexcom’s long-term implantable sensors were developed and studied.
Their first continuous glucose monitoring system hit the market in 2006. Advancements in their technology and systems have yet to slow down. In 2018 the Dexcom G6 officially hit the consumer market after securing FDA approval.
Through their innovative system, Dexcom seeks to help people take control of their diabetes, simplifying and improving diabetes management for thousands of customers worldwide.
What We Like About the Dexcom G6
- The Dexcom G6 checks glucose levels every five minutes, that’s up to 288 readings per day.
- Can be worn for ten days, which is more than most. Also, it can be worn discreetly.
- Involves a pain-free insertion with a plastic applicator, so no need for multiple finger sticks a day to check glucose levels.
- Customizable alarms, alerts, and monitoring data can be displayed on compatible devices, including smartphones and smart watches.
- Some of the cost may be covered by insurance or Medicare.
What We Don’t Like About the Dexcom G6
- Can be quite expensive, both with or without insurance.
- Not all smartphone devices are compatible with the Dexcom G6.
- Sometimes the signal (Bluetooth) may disconnect from the smartphone or pump, making the data less reliable.
- The sensor can fall off early, before day ten, this can make restarting a bit of a bother.
- Depending on your level of tech-saviness, setting up and interpreting data can be a little challenging.
The Dexcom G6 monitoring system checks glucose levels every five minutes, allowing customers a real-time look at their glucose levels. It is approved for ages two and older.
The Auto-Applicator: Simple and Virtually Painless
The Dexcom G6’s one-touch auto-applicator is very user-friendly. It inserts a small sensor just beneath the skin, eliminating the need for finger sticks for calibration and glucose monitoring.
We found the process virtually painless (though we understand that everyone’s pain threshold and tolerance are different).
Plus, when it’s time for a new one you simply press the orange button on the applicator to insert a new sensor. These come in boxes of three already pre-assembled.
No Issues With the Sensor or Transmitter
Once the slim sensor is inserted, it continuously monitors blood glucose levels and sends the data wirelessly through the transmitter to a display device.
The transmitter sits atop the sensor casing and acts as the brain behind the sensor. It is Bluetooth-enabled and has a three-month battery life. It transmits data every five minutes directly to the compatible receiving device (as long as it’s within 20 feet).
We found the Bluetooth syncing just as easy as any other device (smartphone, tablet, etc.).
The disposable sensors are thin, discreet, and water-resistant — working fine even after a shower.They’re meant to be inserted and left in place for 10 days, the previous Dexcom model was only 7 days. Also, 10 days is the absolute max as it features a hard shut-off after the 10th day.
Each new sensor has a code that must be entered into the mobile app or receiver device prior to insertion, otherwise calibration will not work.
Glucose Date Easy To Find and Understand
To display the glucose data, the Dexcom G6 can use the small touch screen receiver or a compatible device, such as a smartphone or smartwatch. We opted for a smartphone with the Dexcom G6 mobile app.
With the app, glucose data is displayed on the device and features customizable alerts and alarms to notify users when glucose levels are trending high or low. This app is available for both Apple and Android devices.
- Customizable alarms/alerts – The app allows you to set your own alert/alarm preferences for night or day. We really liked the customizable “Do Not Disturb” and “Snooze” features. Note: It would not allow some alerts to be disabled.
- Predictive alerts – The app features predictive alerts like “urgent low soon.” Typically, this alert happens when glucose levels are predicted to fall below 55 mg/dL within 20 minutes. It is required by the FDA, so it cannot be turned off.
What Dexcom Customers Are Saying
“I love this company. I have never been happier with any other diabetes supply company. The customer service is second to none. Thank you Dexcom for everything you do and everybody you hire!”
— Jamie, 5/5 stars on Trustpilot
“I have been on the Dexcom G6 for over a month now. I have to say it’s been fantastic so far. My order came quickly. It’s so easy to insert with no pain. And very water resistant I found with my libre it fell off all the time. It’s been wonderful keeping a constant track of my BG levels and my control has improved immensely. My only negative is the cost. But then you pay for what you get and it’s been fantastic so far.”
— Catherine, 5/5 stars on Trustpilot
Dexcom G6 Pricing
The Dexcom G6 system can be quite pricey. The system itself cannot be purchased directly on the Dexcom website and must be purchased through medical distributors.
The Dexcom system is available both in brick-and-mortar retail pharmacies (CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, etc.) and online retailers — which is probably the easiest way to purchase them.
For example, we found a three-pack of sensors at Walmart for around $300. You can also estimate using about four transmitters per year (lasting 3 months each for approx. $300 each).
So, averaged out, you can expect to spend roughly $500 a month (or $6000/year) on the Dexcom G6 supplies.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does insurance cover Dexcom costs?
Yes, some insurances do cover the costs of the Dexcom G6 system. Dexcom offers a free benefits check to see if you’re covered.
What about Medicare?
Yes, the Dexcom G6 is covered by Medicare for those that meet the Medicare criteria.
A Better Way To Monitor Glucose Levels?
The Dexcom G6 is one of the most advanced continuous glucose monitoring devices on the market.
But is it the right choice?
Yes, we found Dexcom G6 to be a top-notch system for managing and monitoring diabetes.
With over 20 years of experience, Dexcom’s system is innovative and offers features that go well beyond other invasive glucose monitoring devices.
With 24/7 monitoring and real-time data, it’s time to say goodbye to finger pricks.
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Fact Checked and Editorial Process
Diabetic.org is devoted to producing expert and accurate articles and information for our readers by hiring experts, journalists, medical professionals, and our growing Diabetic.org community. We encourage you to read more about our content, editing, and fact checking methods here. This was fact checked by Erik Rivera and medically reviewed by Dr. Angel Rivera.
Owner, entrepreneur, and consumer health enthusiast.