Prolonging the life of a CGM session

@Thomas, do you use the plastic tool to dislodge this from your daughters skin? Does she indicate it’s painful in any way? This sounds like something I may want to try on Liam to extend the life of each sensor because sticking to his skin isn’t a problem for us…it’s those disconnections in communication that always cause us to change them out. If we can dislodge the transmitter, clean it, and reattach it, this may extend the life of our sessions. But if it’s painful (I’m thinking of the pushing against the skin and whether or not this would possibly be painful with the small cannula under the skin), we’ll just change them out every 2 weeks as we always do.

Also…how do you get the transmitter to get seated back down onto the sensor without that little “tab” that helps seat it? And…would that add more pain to the process of doing this change out do you think? Anyone with exp in this process, especially those with kids, I’d love to know if you do this and whether it’s painful for them or not.

1 Like

Trivial and painless. Two hands with fingernails. The tools is probably easier if you are trying it one handed on yourself perhaps. Practice with the next used sensor you take off.

Hands down my daughter would prefer this any day of the week over a sensor replacement. Not even close.


Thanks. And this trick extends the sensor session on average by how long?

1 Like

We also find out that, when you get ??? in the late part of a sensor life for us (11-14 days), whatever you do doesn’t seem to make much difference. So, like @Thomas, when we see ??? in that late stage, we wait a couple of hours then change the sensor if it’s not back and good.

Often, it will sputter, so after a couple of sputters we change sensors too (also only in the late part of a sensor life).

1 Like

So you actually do a complete sensor change then? Have you tried @Thomas method of only removing the transmitter, cleaning it, then reattaching it to the current already installed sensor?

He doesn’t do it in the late part of the life cycle either (he says not on days 12-14).

We do not have his problem often: he gets ??? errors after a shower, but we hardly ever do. We have unbedded-bedded the transmitter on and off a few times to clean up the contact prongs with alcohol: easy and totally painless (on a bigger kid). This helped us a couple of times.

When we are on the later part of a life cycle, for us these ??? mean that we are at the end.


When I started out using a sensor, I also got ??? sometimes after showering. Then I started taping half a sandwich bag* over the sensor to keep it dry, and it’s never happened since. Now I only get the ??? when the sensor is in its death throes.

*Just a short strip of waterproof tape across the top to keep it in place; you don’t have to completely seal it. And I use half a bag because I was economizing. I suppose you could use a complete bag, and then you could keep a sandwich in it in case you get hungry during your shower.


So, we don’t begin having sensor/transmitter communication issues until the later part of the SECOND WEEK, as you indicated. Are you both saying that at two weeks is about the extent of use for a sensor session? Or, if, at days 12 - 14, if you remove, clean, then replace the transmitter, that it extends the life more (even if just by 3 - 4 more days it would be worth doing it in the long run…less pain, less money spent.)

However, if removing the transmitter and cleaning it doesn’t help at this late stage, then we’ll just push on with doing it as we’ve always done…changing the sensor at day 12 - 14.

I had a pretty good laugh at this :slight_smile:

My boy would totally go for that – I don’t think he’s found a moment of the day which he does not see as fit to eat!

1 Like

I know some get much longer life. For us, we top off around that: I imagine that the life of an active teenager makes it more likely that the fiber gets displaced more or gets more play? The other aspect of it is that my boy is very lean, which makes life difficult with Dexcom sensors from day one.

This trick of @Thomas works when the problem is the quality of the contact between the transmitter and the sensor. I am thinking that the reason for the ??? later in life is not the contact quality, which is why, for us, we don’t appear to have any longer sensor life when cleaning the transmitter contact prongs at that stage in the sensor life cycle. But it may well be that this would actually be the cause of the issue for others, and that what doesn’t work for us works for others?

1 Like

Our sensor generally gives us bad numbers starting about day #13. I do not believe this has anything to do with the contact surface between the sensor and the transmitter but more likely is related to something going on with the sensor wire under the skin. Just a guess.
We have not found any method to extend the sensor life with good accurate data for longer than this.

Some people go 30 days or longer. It would appear to be more dependent on the person then the sensor.


Well, I’m going to try it this next change out to just see how it works and I’ll report back what happens in our case. If it can extend the life even another day, we’ll take it honestly! After 1.5 years of doing these change-outs regularly, Liam still hates them and screams as if we’re murdering his favorite kitten.

Liam honestly doesn’t even play in water too often and the showers we give him we try to keep them dry even though we know they can handle water…so I would think his case would be a great one to test to see how long a lifespan he can get (before he’s older and a lot more active, sweating, getting wet…all the things that decrease life span.)

1 Like

Dang. And here I thought activity was good for you.


lol. Decrease lifespan OF THE SENSOR!!! Yes…all those things do EXTEND lifespan of the human body!

1 Like

Agreed with all of this—it’s not hard at all, you just ideally want to have a sense of what you’re doing especially if doing it to someone else, so practice with a removed sensor first. It’s also handy if you need to replace a transmitter while your sensor is still going strong. I’m really annoyed that as of now, plans are that this won’t be possible with the next Dex model.


Me too.

1 Like