freestyle libre diabetes management

New system says goodbye to finger pricking for diabetes management

For anyone living with diabetes, “finger pricking” is an all-too-familiar term.

Until recently, the only way to determine your blood glucose level was to prick your finger and measure a small sample of blood. However, with the FreeStyle Libre flash glucose monitor from Abbott Diabetes Care, Canadians with diabetes now have a more convenient – and less painful – way to obtain their blood glucose reading.

No more finger pricking!

Finger pricking is dreaded by many diabetics; both painful and annoying, it also poses a risk of infection.

With the advent of the FreeStyle Libre, however, finger pricking has become a thing of the past. The Libre is the very first glucose monitoring device available in Canada that doesn’t require its users to use a finger-stick – not even for calibration.

Not only does the Libre measure your current blood sugar level, but it can also illustrate trends in your glucose levels, making it simple to identify potential areas of concern. The device can also store up to eight hours of blood sugar activity so you can easily obtain an overnight reading when you wake. These enhanced capabilities enable you to check your glucose measurements – including current levels and trend directions – and create a complete snapshot that’s essential for effective diabetes management.

A competitive edge for high performance athletes

The benefits of the FreeStyle Libre aren’t limited to Canadians living with diabetes. The device also offers potential rewards to those experiencing reactive hypoglycaemia or pre-diabetes, and even for endurance athletes looking to optimize their performance.

Maintaining stable blood sugar levels is important for sustaining your energy level and stamina over extended periods of time. With the Libre device, high performance athletes can more effectively monitor their nutrition during activity and avoid blood sugar crashes that can result in fatigue, cramping and dehydration.

How does it work?

The FreeStyle Libre system consists of a small sensor, roughly the size of a quarter, that is worn on the back of the arm for a period of up to 14 days. Similar to a continuous glucose monitor, it measures glucose data minute by minute. Using a special reader, users scan the patch with near-field communication (NFC) technology to get a glucose reading quickly, painlessly and as frequently as desired.

The Libre sensor can even read glucose levels through clothing, making testing even more convenient and discreet.

How can I try the FreeStyle Libre?

If you’d like to learn more about the new FreeStyle Libre flash glucose monitor, or you’d like to try the device for yourself, speak to your physician. You can also connect with the Copeman team of diabetes professionals, who have extensive training with this new device. You can receive hands-on training and detailed follow-ups on how to interpret its reports and better manage your blood sugar levels.

The FreeStyle Libre website also provides excellent information and instructional videos on how to apply and download reader data. (

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is a normal blood sugar level in Canada?

Normal blood sugars for people without diabetes are 3.9–5.5 mmol/L while fasting and below 7.8 mmol/L 2 hours after a meal. Recommend blood sugar target for people living with diabetes is an <7.0 fasting and below 10mmol/L 2 hours after a meal. More importantly, patients with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes should target a Hemoglobin A1C blood test (a three-month average blood glucose test) below 7.

Can you buy a blood glucose monitor over the counter?

Yes. You can buy most blood glucose monitors at your nearest pharmacy or have them order it in.

Is FreeStyle Libre covered in Canada?

FreeStyle Libre is covered by private insurance if you are living with Type 2 diabetes and are on medication to control your blood sugars. Coverage may vary depending on your provider. It is not covered under the public system in British Columbia. It is covered under the public system in Ontario and Quebec if you are living with diabetes and insulin-dependent.

How much is FreeStyle Libre in Canada?

Depending on where you purchase it. There are two components, the reader can range from $54- $70. and a single sensor can range from $97 – $120. You will need a new sensor approximately every two weeks.

Can you get FreeStyle Libre on prescription?

You can take a prescription to most pharmacies in Canada, and in fact, anyone can buy the Libre in their pharmacy. To ensure you are reading and understanding the data correctly it is best to do it in conjunction with a certified diabetes educator (CDE) or your health care provider.

Can you check blood sugar without pricking finger?

Yes, In Canada, there are two systems on the market that use sensors placed on the arm or abdomen and read your blood glucose on a continual basis. Either the FreeStyle Libre Flash Glucose Monitoring System  or the Dexcom G5 will do this.

How long do FreeStyle Libre sensors last?

Roughly two weeks, depending on how frequently you exercise, swim and bathe.

Is there a diabetic meter that doesn’t require blood?

Yes. technically the Libre and Dexcom sensors test your interstitial fluid, not your blood. If you are looking for a monitor that does not require piercing the skin, there are no approved ones available to date in Canada (although some companies are researching and testing this kind of new technology).

Which is the best blood sugar testing machine?

This depends on the person using the machine, their lifestyle and their preferences. Having the use of a continuous blood glucose monitor or flash monitor to provide a clear picture of how your blood sugar responds to your day to day food intake, exercise, stress, sleep, etc. is superior to single prick meters, most of the time.

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