Continuous Glucose Monitoring Vs. Traditional Blood Glucose Testing

Fact checked by Dr. Mohd Shafiz Mohd Zaini

Inconsistent blood sugar levels can cause numerous health issues. A study found that around 18% of Malaysian citizens have diabetes mellitus, some requiring regular insulin dosing to regulate their sugar levels.

This disease can cause life-threatening conditions like digestive and kidney diseases, glycated hemoglobin, and many other problems. Hence, people with such issues must monitor their sugar levels regularly to stay ahead and prevent major problems before they arise.

People nowadays use various tools for blood glucose monitoring, but not all are suitable for every patient. Today, we will discuss two significantly different blood glucose meters that can help you have glycemic control and protect you from diabetes-related diseases that may affect the quality of your life.

Both of these fall under the category of self-monitoring systems, suitable for at-home usage. In this post, we will discuss what they are, how they are used, and some of their main differences below.

What is continuous glucose monitoring?

CGM or Continous Glucose Monitoring systems use a tiny sensor in the skin to collect interstitial fluid and measure glycemic variability, alerting you when you need an insulin pump and have low blood sugar.

The best part is that you can connect this implantable sensor to your smart device, such as a mobile phone, which puts you in control of your disease. That way, you will always know your glucose levels and can provide diabetes care according to your results.

Blood glucose readings from the continuous glucose monitoring system are accurate due to its advanced technology, helping you avoid side effects like memory loss due to nerve damage. It would be best to change your glucose meter once every few days or weekly for the most accurate results.

What is traditional blood glucose testing?

Traditional glucose testing involves small devices containing a meter and test strips. The person using the conventional method must take a capillary blood sample (usually from a finger), put it on the test strip, and insert it into the device. The device will measure and briefly display the blood sugar level on the screen.

Many people use this traditional method of diabetes management and take tests multiple times a day. This method is convenient because diabetic patients can track their levels whenever they find it suitable and carry the device wherever they go. However, there are a few downsides to using traditional testing.

For one, people can only test when they feel a drop or an increase in their blood sugar. Moreover, not all patients can use this method – if you have hemophobia (fear of blood) or have other blood issues, such as anemia or high blood pressure, you may not want to use the traditional testing method.

The Differences

Aside from the method, these two glucose monitoring systems differ in numerous other aspects. Below, you will see some main differences between continuous glucose monitoring and traditional blood glucose testing.

Testing Frequency

The traditional method requires you to test your blood sugar level throughout the day manually. You must consider when to take the test based on your meal timing, physical activity levels, and how frequently you want to monitor your glucose concentrations.

On the other hand, continuous subcutaneous glucose monitoring provides you with 24/7 testing solutions. You will always know whether you have low blood glucose or need an insulin pump, so it’s much more convenient.


Using a CGM device, you can keep track of your glucose throughout the day and do a meta-analysis to see when your levels drop or increase. Moreover, you can save your data to a smart device and have all your tests in one place. These devices will also give you an in-depth analysis of your blood glucose and provide you with an insight into your trends.

Although you can still keep track of your levels and compare your results to previous ones, traditional test strips may not be as convenient. You must manually input your test results and analyze your blood glucose; no software will work instead of you.

Additionally, your analysis may be inaccurate due to testing infrequency.


CGM devices provide highly accurate results with the exact blood glucose level at any given moment.

In fact, many specialists recommend these solutions to diabetes patients because of how precise they are.

Traditional testing may be inaccurate, depending on the patient’s blood extraction technique. It takes training and practice to measure blood glucose using these tests accurately and receive accurate results.

diabetes, blood, finger


Blood glucose monitoring using CGM may be more user-friendly. Unlike the traditional method, you won’t have to extract blood which can be an uncomfortable experience. However, it may take some time to get used to carrying a CGM device on your body at all times, but with regular use, this feeling will fade.

While some patients get used to extracting a drop of blood whenever they want to measure their blood sugar levels, most find the test strip experience inconvenient and uncomfortable. Overall, CGM offers a more positive user experience.


You can find traditional methods everywhere – from the national institute to medical care institutions, and many specialists use this method to track glucose levels in patients. Due to its widespread use, traditional glucose monitoring methods often have insurance coverage. You may be able to get a device using your health insurance and pay less for diabetes care.

On the other hand, you usually cannot get a CGM device using your insurance. In some cases, you can try to purchase a device, but there is a long way to go to make purchasing this device accessible through the insurance plan.


When purchasing the initial equipment for continuous glucose monitoring, you may have to put some money aside to afford such a device. After the initial equipment, you will have to repurchase the device weekly, making this option on the more expensive side of the spectrum regarding diabetes control.

On the other hand, purchasing a traditional monitoring device may be expensive, but repurchasing test strips isn’t as pricey. You only have to repurchase the strips to measure your levels actively. Thus, it is more affordable to use traditional glucose meters than CGMs.

Pros and Cons

As you can already see, these two devices have numerous differences. Additionally, both methods have their advantages and disadvantages regarding diabetes care, as you can see below.

Continuous Glucose Monitoring System


  • Early detection

  • Frequency

  • Control

  • Insulin intake

  • Alerts

  • Accuracy


  • Cost

  • Maintenance

  • Insertion

Traditional Blood Glucose Testing


  • Insurance coverage

  • Cost

  • Accessibility

  • Flexibility

  • Time-efficiency

  • Portability


  • Inconvenience

  • Discomfort

  • Limited data

Which method is better?

Although these methods have their strengths and weaknesses, one seems more convenient than the other. CGM devices will measure your levels at all times, providing you with insulin suggestions to prevent complications caused by diabetes.

Although a bit pricier, continuous monitoring may be more comfortable and better for your overall health, this method has experienced a significant improvement in technology, making it one of the most reliable glucose meters in modern medicine.

On the other hand, traditional methods may be convenient for some who don’t like having a device attached to their skin all day. Both of these can provide accurate results, but only CGM keeps track of your health at all times and provides alerts.

Overall, CGM is the future of diabetes technology, as there is no risk of the user forgetting to check their blood sugar or forgetting their pen at home.


Diabetes is one of our worst enemies due to the consequences it carries. However, you can use a blood glucose meter to control your levels and know when to react. Reacting on time is crucial in such scenarios, as the situation can become complicated if you do not respond on time.

We have presented two methods you can use to keep track of your condition, their differences, pros and cons, and a better choice between the two. CGM seems to be a better option due to its various benefits outlined above – convenience and real-time alerts being the two biggest.

When it comes to any health issue, it is in your best interest to consult a doctor who specializes in the specific area of medicine where you are having problems. In this specific case, consulting an endocrinologist or a Diabetologist is a must. They will be able to provide you with up-to-date information and thorough explanations. This will help you follow the right treatment plan to manage your condition.




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