What are they?
The Dexcom G5 is a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) – which means that BG readings get transmitted directly to your phone or reader.
The Freestyle Libre is a Flash Glucose Monitoring System – which means that the information is not automatically sent to the Reader – you have to swipe to see. If you don’t scan within 8 hours of the last scan (like when you’re sleeping!)..you lose the data between the previous scan and the time over the previous 8 hours. The Freestyle Libre is not a CGM.
So who wins…
The insertion? Libre
Libre wins this one for ease of application. You can’t really go wrong with it. Dexcom, on the other hand, requires a little more effort.
The sensor start up? Dexcom
Libres warm up in 1 hour. But in the US, Libres now take a shocking 12 hours to warm up. 12 hours!
Dexcom takes 2, regardless of location.
The sensor life? Dexcom
Libres live for 14 days with an automatic cut off. In the US, sensors cut off after 10 days.
Dexcom G5 sensors are able to be restarted every 7 days..indefinitely. (Though you change when the numbers go ‘off’. or you keep getting the dreaded ‘???’ instead of a reading. Before I had Dexcom I wondered how I’d ‘know’ when the numbers go off, and believe me when I say that you will know!
You cannot calibrate with the Libre…which means that if you get a sensor which is a bit ‘off’ on the readings, it’s off for the duration of it’s life. Some people see no calibration as a good thing, but I like to have a little more control. Dexcom requires 2 readings immediately after warm-up, then every 12 hours. You can calibrate more if desired.
The Libre has no alarms.
I have a love-hate relationship with Dexcom alarms. I hate that they can often wake me up during the night – and more often than not this is for a ‘false’ low – but that’s the whole point! You can set your own ‘High’ and ‘Low’ alerts as well, and you can just have Vibrate only (except for ‘Urgent Low’ Alarms – below 3.1). You can also set alarms for rapid Rise or Fall rates and Signal Loss if you wish!
Despite the larger size, I find Dexcom to be more comfortable – generally. I would find the Libre to be sore port-insertion, whereas Dexcom tends to be pain-free from the start. However – hit a bad spot with the Dexcom and you might find yourself with a very sore arm for a while!
Overnight readings? Tie
I found both devices to read lower overnight – even when I wasn’t necessarily as low as they said.
Data & Graphs? Dexcom
The Libre graphs are cool..but feel rather rudimentary after switching to Dexcom. There’s so. much. data.
No explanation needed.
Despite the larger size of the Dexcom, I found the Libre more prone to being knocked off. I knocked the Libre off once. I’ve pulled Dexcom off twice (once in my sleep into the third week of sensor life – no tegarderm, and once pulling my sports bra off – no tegarderm again!)
I’ve found that the Libre struggled to stay attached for its two weeks, whereas I’m confident Dexcom will sit tight for longer.
Dexcom allows you to order 4 sensors and a transmitter at a time, which can keep you going for 3.5 months.
Abbott allows you to order 2 Libre sensors at a time, which will keep you going for 1 month.
Delivery time? Dexcom
Every Dexcom order I’ve placed or replacement I’ve received has arrived within 2 days of me being in contact with Dexcom.
Abbott aim to deliver in 5-7 days, but is often longer.
Customer Service? Dexcom
I’ve heard negative things about Abbott’s customer service – though I’ve had no interactions with them personally. However, I’ve contacted Dexcom twice about dodgy sensors and once prior to the introductory offer and their customer service has been second to none.
Viewing Readings? Dexcom
With both Libre and Dexcom, readings are viewable via a phone app. However, the Libre has to be scanned whereas Dexcom doesn’t.
Watch compatibility? Dexcom
Dexcom is compatible with a bunch of devices, but I view my data on my Apple Watch.
For parents of type 1 kids? Dexcom!
Dexcom has the option for other people to ‘Follow’ readings – and also receive alarms. This means a parent can be woken up when their kid has high or low blood sugar, and of course be able to view their BG at any other time of day!