Everything You Need to Know About the FreeStyle Libre 2
Everything You Need to Know About the FreeStyle Libre 2
This content has been reviewed and approved for quality and accuracy by James O'Loan (GPhC: 2084549)
Managing diabetes can seem daunting and challenging, particularly if you’ve only been recently diagnosed.
Even if you’ve lived with type 1 or type 2 diabetes for a long time, blood glucose monitoring can be inconvenient and even stressful.
The number of people in the UK being diagnosed with diabetes is on the rise; a staggering 5.3 million of us are expected to be living with the disease by 2025¹.
Fortunately, diabetes care is advancing just as quickly, and managing the disease doesn’t need to be as challenging as it used to be.
In this guide, we’ll be introducing you to a groundbreaking way of managing diabetes with an increasingly popular glucose monitoring system: the Freestyle Libre 2.
What is the FreeStyle Libre 2?
The FreeStyle Libre 2 is a flash glucose monitoring system, following up from the original FreeStyle Libre.
The system includes a small, water-resistant sensor that you wear just under the skin on your upper arm for 14 days at a time, which will record your glucose levels throughout the day and night.
With the FreeStyle Libre 2, you’re able to access minute-by-minute readings just by scanning the sensor with your smartphone or Libre 2 reader.
This will help you to identify hypoglycemia (when your blood sugar levels are too low) or hyperglycemia (when your blood sugar levels are too high) in real-time without the need for regular finger-prick tests.
The FreeStyle Libre 2 system also features an optional alarm to alert you of high or low blood sugar levels, so you can take action quickly if your levels aren’t where they need to be.
The alarm will also let you know if there’s been a loss of signal between your sensor and its reader.
The FreeStyle Libre 2 is suitable for people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
How does flash glucose monitoring work?
Flash glucose monitoring measures the amount of glucose in the fluid surrounding your body’s cells - this is called interstitial fluid.
This is a slightly different reading compared to blood glucose monitoring with a finger-prick test, which measures the glucose that’s actually in your blood.
Whilst there is a small time delay when checking interstitial fluid, especially after eating or during exercise, the readings are an incredibly reliable and accurate way of monitoring your glucose levels.
As the FreeStyle Libre 2 takes a reading every minute, it’s a fantastic way of monitoring trends and tracking patterns, helping you to fully understand and take control of your diabetes.
What are the advantages of flash glucose monitoring over blood glucose monitoring?
There are a lot of benefits to using a flash glucose monitoring sensor like the FreeStyle Libre 2.
Compared to blood glucose monitoring, using the FreeStyle Libre 2 can be easier, convenient and more effective when it comes to managing your diabetes.
The advantages of flash glucose monitoring are:
- You won’t need to do as many finger-prick tests
- You can track trends and patterns, helping you to take action quicker
- The extra data can give you extra confidence in managing your diabetes
- With more information, you’ll be able to get your glucose levels in target range more often
- You can see what your levels are like when you wouldn’t usually test (during the night, for example)
- Your glucose levels can be shared easily with your healthcare team
Are there any disadvantages?
Advancing diabetes technology is fantastic for many patients, but it isn’t necessarily for everyone.
Some of the disadvantages of flash glucose monitoring are:
- You may feel overwhelmed by the amount of data, which can be confusing or worrying
- You still need to do finger-prick tests sometimes
- You might not like the appearance of the sensor
Why do people with diabetes need to monitor their glucose levels?
For people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, monitoring blood glucose (sugar) levels is extremely important.
By monitoring your blood glucose regularly, you’re able to see the effects that certain foods, medicines or exercises have on your body.
Your doctor will tell you what your target blood sugar range should be, so you’ll be able to check for levels that are too high or too low.
You’ll need to keep a record of these results; with devices like the FreeStyle Libre 2, you’ll often be able to save your results easily on your phone.
This information will help your doctor make important decisions with you about your diabetes care plan, such as changes to your medication or changes to your diet.
These decisions will help to prevent serious diabetes complications such as blindness, heart attack or amputation.
What is the difference between the original Freestyle Libre and the Freestyle Libre 2?
The FreeStyle Libre 2 is an updated, more advanced version of the original Freestyle Libre sensor.
Just like the original, the FreeStyle Libre 2 is discreet, convenient and easy to use with the added benefits:
- There shouldn’t be any need to prick your finger when using the FreeStyle Libre 2 system even when your glucose is low, falling or rapidly changing. (You may need to take a finger-prick test if your symptoms do not match your readings).
- The FreeStyle Libre 2 has outstanding accuracy, particularly in the low glucose range.
- Optional alarms for low glucose, high glucose and signal loss, providing real-time results and helping you to react quickly.
Upgrading to the FreeStyle Libre 2
If you’ve been using the original FreeStyle Libre and you want to upgrade to the FreeStyle Libre 2, it’s very easy to do so.
Simply order your FreeStyle Libre 2 sensors and choose which device you’d like to receive alarms on: your mobile phone or your reader.
If you prefer to use a reader, go to the Reader Replacement Portal and complete an online request form.
Request validation by entering your current FreeStyle Libre reader’s serial number - your new replacement reader will be delivered directly to you and there’s no need to send your current reader back.
How accurate is the FreeStyle Libre 2?
The accuracy of the FreeStyle Libre 2 is measured using mean absolute relative difference (MARD).
MARD measures the average of error between the values of glucose measured by a flash glucose monitoring sensor and the tested reference values.
The smaller the percentage, the closer your flash glucose monitoring sensor’s results are to the reference values.
The FreeStyle Libre 2 has a MARD of 9.3% for adults and 9.7% for children during the full 14-day period in which you use each sensor.
Can children use flash glucose monitoring systems?
Children with diabetes have to undergo finger-prick testing 6 times a day on average, which can be difficult and inconvenient.
On top of that, 51% of diabetic children suffer sleep disruption due to diabetes management and 63% of children have had at least one episode of severe hypoglycaemia during sleep².
Fortunately, the FreeStyle Libre 2 has been approved for children aged 4 years old and above, meaning you can take the stress out of your child’s diabetes management with the ability to monitor their glucose levels while they’re fast asleep.
Children using the FreeStyle Libre 2 must be supervised by a parent or carer who will be responsible for managing the sensor and interpreting the results.
Is the Freestyle Libre 2 suitable for pregnant women?
Pregnant women with diabetes are safe to use the FreeStyle Libre 2 - whether that be type 1, type 2 or gestational diabetes (a type of diabetes that develops during pregnancy and disappears after giving birth).
Diabetic women are recommended to monitor their glucose levels frequently during pregnancy to reduce the risk of any adverse outcomes.
The FreeStyle Libre 2 makes this process easy and convenient, with over 90% of pregnant women agreeing that it’s less stressful, less painful, more discreet and easier to use³.
How to apply the FreeStyle Libre 2 sensor
Applying the FreeStyle Libre 2 sensor is simple, and you’ll only need to change it every 14 days.
Select an area of skin on the back of your upper arm that generally stays flat during normal daily activities, avoiding areas with moles, scarring, stretch marks or lumps.
Choose a site that is at least 2.5cm (1 inch) away from an insulin injection site and prevent skin irritation by selecting a different site to the one most recently used.
Use a non-moisturising, fragrance-free soap to wash the area where you intend to apply your sensor, use an alcohol wipe to remove any oily residue and allow your skin to fully dry before application.
To apply the sensor, open the sensor pack by peeling off the lid and unscrewing the cap from the applicator.
Set the cap aside and line up the dark mark on the applicator with the dark mark on the sensor pack.
Then, press firmly down on the applicator on a hard surface until it comes to a stop.
Place the applicator over the prepared site and push down firmly to apply the sensor to your body, then gently pull the applicator away from your body - the sensor should now be attached to your skin.
Place the cap back onto the used applicator and dispose of it correctly along with the used sensor pack.
When it comes to removing your sensor after 14 days, you may benefit from using baby oil or an adhesive remover specifically designed for the skin.
Understanding your results
With every scan of your FreeStyle Libre 2 sensor, you’ll receive your current glucose reading, a trend arrow indicating the direction your glucose is heading and the last 8 hours of glucose history.
In Daily Patterns, you’ll be able to view the variability of your glucose levels over multiple days - the thick black line will show the midpoint of your glucose readings and the shaded area indicates glucose variability.
Low Glucose Events will show information about the number of times your glucose readings were lower than 3.9mmol/L for longer than 15 minutes.
Time In Target shows the percentage of time your FreeStyle Libre 2 sensor readings were above, below and within your target glucose range.
Alongside your FreeStyle Libre 2 sensor, there are supporting applications to help you view and manage your glucose readings.
With this technology, you’ll be able to understand your results clearly and share them with your medical team with ease.
LibreLink is an app that enables you to scan your sensor with your iPhone or Android smartphone, so you can easily monitor your glucose without routine finger-prick tests.
When you scan the sensor with a compatible phone that’s running the LibreLink app, your glucose data will be displayed directly onto that device in a similar fashion to the FreeStyle Libre reader.
The LibreLink app means you won’t have to carry around a reader if you don’t want to, making it convenient for monitoring your results on the go.
If you’d like to use a reader and the app in combination, be sure to use your reader to start a new sensor - a sensor started with the app cannot be used with the FreeStyle Libre reader.
Download LibreLink at the App Store or Google Play.
LibreLinkUp is a companion app to the FreeStyle LibreLink app which allows your glucose readings to be automatically shared with your family, friends or caregivers.
You’ll need to ask your family member, friend or caregiver to download the LibreLinkUp app on their phone and invite them to share your glucose data.
LibreLinkUp is particularly useful for parents and children; if your child is wearing a FreeStyle Libre sensor with the LibreLink app, you’ll be able to view their glucose information easily and receive relevant notifications on your smartphone.
Download LibreLinkUp at the App Store or Google Play.
LibreView is a cloud-based diabetes management system, providing a secure repository for data from your FreeStyle LibreLink app and allowing you to share your glucose data with your medical team.
With LibreView, you’ll be able to create clear glucose reports that your doctor can use to make vital decisions about your diabetes care plan.
You’ll also be able to personally identify trends and patterns in your glucose data, helping you to focus on certain areas for improvement.
If you’re using the LibreLink app to monitor your glucose, your data will be automatically uploaded to LibreView every time you scan your sensor.
Whilst the FreeStyle Libre 2 may be suitable for most people with diabetes, there are some scenarios in which extra caution is necessary.
You should not use the FreeStyle Libre 2 system if you’re using an automated insulin dosing system (AID), including closed loop and insulin suspend systems.
Whilst using the FreeStyle Libre 2, avoid taking more than 500mg of vitamin C each day as this could result in your readings appearing higher than they are.
If you experience any symptoms that don’t seem to match the readings from your sensor, you should take a finger-prick test and consult your healthcare professional.
Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to make sure you’re getting the most out of the FreeStyle Libre 2 and speak to your doctor first to make sure the product is right for you.
Chemist4U stock a range of FreeStyle diabetes care products, including the FreeStyle Libre 2, all available with fast delivery.
1. Diabetes Prevalence 2019, Diabetes UK:
2. The FreeStyle Libre 2 System & Your Children, FreeStyle Libre: https://www.freestylelibre.co.uk/libre/discover/children.html
3. The FreeStyle Libre 2 System & Pregnancy, FreeStyle Libre: https://www.freestylelibre.co.uk/libre/discover/diabetes-management-pregnancy.html