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How Long Does Your Dexcom Sensor Last?

Discussion in 'Type 1 Diabetes' started by mefunk, Jul 16, 2018.

  1. mefunk

    mefunk Type 1 · Member

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    I am interested to hear from Dexcom users. How much time do you get from one sensor? I have read where some people get as long as 3 weeks from one sensor but I can't seem to get close to that. Here is my typical routine for inserting a new sensor:
    - I use Skin Tac on my skin (abdomen) to create a layer of stickiness
    - Once it is dry, I apply/insert the sensor directly on top of the sticky area
    -Then I insert the transmitter and start the calibration phase
    - Once I have calibrated the new sensor with 2 finger sticks, I place a large plaster (e.g. J&J Tough Pads) with the center cut out over the sensor/tape area. I make sure the plaster tape does not interfere with the transmitter.
    The system works fine until around day 9 or 10 when the receiver displays ???? in the top right corner. Sometimes it self-corrects but usually within 24 hours, the same error signal is displayed, the sensor is done and I have to replace.
    Can anyone suggest anything to help the sensors last longer? I know they are indicated for 7 days only.
    Thanks
     
  2. Deleted Account

    Deleted Account · Guest

    The longest I got mine to work was 23 days.
    However, this was whilst I was ill and not moving much.
    I discovered that doing stomach crunches in the gym significantly reduced the lifespan of my Dexcom.
    From this, I deduced I needed to place the sensor in the part of my body that moves the least. I am still experimenting.
     
  3. jackois

    jackois Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    I manage 14 days mostly.

    Although I have skin tac and so on available, I just shave the area I use at the top of my stomach, then use an alcohol wipe on the area. Once the spot is dry, the sensor is fired on.

    Occasionally the plaster area starts to peel, usually in hot weather. Then, I'll cut kinseology tape to fit, soak some skin tac into the plaster area, fitting the tape once it's tacky. This keeps it on until day 14.

    On the occasions that I've tried to push the sensor past 14 days, it usually starts reading one to one and a half units lower and reacting sluggishly to and changes due to food and so on.
     
  4. tim2000s

    tim2000s Type 1 · Expert
    Retired Moderator

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    I used the back of my arm (similar placement to Libre) as it enjoys the longest life. With the G5 sensors, my longest was about 31 days, but the norm is that I got 15-18 days and the noise is usually very noticeable in the latter few days. I'm currently using a G6 and it's into day 13, and still going strong, with no calibrations and still within 0.3mmol of blood on most of the readings. It will be interesting to see how long it lasts.
     
  5. slip

    slip Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    I believe @therower was on day 41 the other day.......................I'm sure he'll be able to provide more on that and what his average sensor life span is now I've tagged him! (Although he may have his hands full of grand-kids!)
     
  6. therower

    therower Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    @mefunk . Thanks for the tag @slip . Grandkids shattered and sleeping st moment:).
    So I use Dexcom G4.
    Shortest life span has been 9 days which coincided with having Aussie flu.
    Longest life span is sensor I’m using currently. Day 45 and counting. Midday today dexcom showed 8.3 blood test showed 8.7. I’m amazed how long it’s lasting. Went swimming yesterday for a few hours. Seriously expected it to stop working. No such worry.
    Average life span is around 21 days.
    Placement is always on my left hand side, if anything more to the rear as opposed to the front, just above waistline and maybe 4 inches up. Only my thoughts but I feel the sensor gets less movement there especially when exercising. Just a thought but on the stomach would cause a lot of movement on the sensor.
    Application is.
    Shave area.
    Alcohol wipe.
    Skin tac.
    Sensor in.
    Over patch ( currently using a patch similar to Elastoplast ) it’s flexible and easy to remove. Usually last about 12/14 day#.
    Carefully remove old patch, re apply skin tac and fit new over patch.
    That’s about it for me.
     
  7. mefunk

    mefunk Type 1 · Member

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    Appreciate all the replies. Your routines all seem very similar to mine with the exception of having to shave tummy first:)All of you seem to get much more time out of your sensors than I. Any thoughts as to why? This drives me nuts due to the expense of having to change sensors frequently (despite having health insurance). Thanks again.
     
  8. MangosteenElbow

    MangosteenElbow Type 1 · Active Member

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    Number of days of the last ten DexCom 4 sensors:

    54; 54; 53; 60; 28; 50; 40; 49; 39; 44


    Over two years:

    Never sought deliberately to push the lives of the sensors. Health care providers seemed initially inclined to argue for strict adherence to warranty period, but that was not logical – a warranty period is not the same as a period of low-risk utility. HCP cannot argue with my records and lack of skin issues. Benefited a lot from this forum and other sites.

    Average life of sensors seems to be getting longer , and fewer CSGM reading problems during their lives.

    All sensors have been used under consistently regular exercise (long running, vigorous running intervals and gym strength or cardio sessions); sometimes swimming (body surfing or ocean pool), seasonally in hot, sweaty conditions (and travel by planes, trains, cars and motor bikes).

    Now finding that less OptiFlex tape is better: using a “cross shape” layout of thinner strips (even though they go over the sensor), instead of my previous practice of wide strips around and over the sensor’s adhesive strip.

    I might alternate the crosses (from St Andrews to Iron) every two or there weeks, depending on the state of the film (i.e., degree of mankiness).

    The latest practice seems to handle showers better. The former practice seemed to trap moisture in between the sensor unit and the transmitter (so sometimes I had to separate them, dry them, wait many minutes and then re-start the session).

    Quite consistently only rotating the site around the navel. That’s where I have any “fat” (not much at all); all other sites are lean.

    Sometimes trim with scissors belly hair. Learnt that shaving encourages too vigorous and itchy regrowth.

    Kept details on a spreadsheet, so I could reflect and adjust (and prove to health care providers).

    My biggest disruption to CSGM readings is, I think, when I have sustained dehydration over several days. The pattern seems to be when I train a lot more than usual, and have less water (or more coffee or a beer?). This pattern seems to be recognisably different from the pattern of a dying sensor site (actually, I think it is the subcutaneous environment, rather than the sensor, which “fails”).

    Never any skin issues, infection or discomfort.

    No insurance cover for sensors or transmitters.


    Transmitters warranted for 6 months. Ignoring the current transmitter, the prior two lasted 349, 387 days.


    Not going to move to any DexCom or other system that hardwires earlier unit lives.

    (edited 23 July 2018: (1) changed "DexCom 5" to DexCom 4". Sorry for the error. (2) updated the life of the then current DexCom 4 to 54 days. I will change it today (day #54).)
     
    #8 MangosteenElbow, Jul 18, 2018 at 2:00 AM
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2018
  9. mefunk

    mefunk Type 1 · Member

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    Thanks for this information.
    Wow..... That length of use is amazing. I need to figure out how I can get more out of mine.
    I found your comment about the subcutaneous environment failing interesting. That may explain why people do have such varying degrees of success with their sensor usage.
    I don't have a problem with adhesive lifting (although perhaps I would if I could get longer out of my sensors).
    Don't get me started on transmitters - both of my last two went kaput after one year.
    Agree with your comment about the sensor restart issue - although I did read somewhere that people have figured out how to override the G6 already....
     
  10. MangosteenElbow

    MangosteenElbow Type 1 · Active Member

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    On a related topic, the longer a sensor is in place, the more likely there will be some skin issues.

    Just today I read the article cited below. It is worth reading. It has free access, so if you search for it you can download it and read it all.
    The article is useful because it combines a review of the (scarce) literature on the topic with real world experience from clinics.

    It gives a number of suggestions on sites, methods and skin care.

    Messer, L. H., Berget, C., Beatson, C., Polsky, S., & Forlenza, G. P. (2018). Preserving Skin Integrity with Chronic Device Use in Diabetes. Diabetes Technol Ther, 20(S2), S254-S264. doi:10.1089/dia.2018.0080
     
  11. robert72

    robert72 Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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