Dexcom’s Irritating <55 Alarm

It pains me to vent about the amazing Dexcom, but I have a frustration. It’s the must-always-be-turned-on <55 alarm that Dexcom has built in.

For starters, I love Dexcom. I hate life without Dexcom. When I’ve run out of sensors, as rare as it is, I don’t really know what to do. So all kudos to Dexcom for making my life so much better.

But Dexcom has an alarm that must always be active (no option to turn it off), which sounds whenever it gets a reading that your blood sugar is below 55. Now in theory that’s a reasonable thing to do; people should know when their blood sugar is below 55. But often when I sleep, Dexcom gets these spotty readings. Sometimes it gets one quick data point that I’m at 35 when I’m really at 220. Sometimes it thinks I’m at 40 when I’m really at 100. It only happens when I sleep, but it happens once or twice a week.

Now this actually doesn’t impact me much, as I sleep through anything, even Dexcom telling me I’m dying.  But for my partner it’s a serious issue, because it wakes her up every time. Now if this only happened when I was really at 45, that would be great. She would wake up, then wake me up, I would get some juice, and it would be a powerful feature.

As it is, it wakes her up a couple times a week, with the bad news that I’m below 55 when I’m actually at 150. At first it was ok, but it’s happened so much that my girlfriend and my favorite medical device are having a hard time getting along. I think I will just leave Dexcom in another room at night, where it will leave us in peace.

So Dexcom engineers… if you’re out there… any chance you could make it possible for us to turn off that <55 alarm? We're big kids, I think we can handle the choice, at least until you get rid of the random LOW readings when I'm sleeping.

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Comments (4)

  1. Laura G. at

    I agree!! Dexcom, are you listening? On the next model, please, please let us turn off the sound on the below-55 alarm! We could sign a release form or something. Give us the choice, just like you do on all the other alarms.
    Some of us are in professional situations where we absolutely can’t risk having a loud alarm going off. I work as an orchestra violinist. I can’t have the Dex with me me onstage in performance, much as I’d like to, just in case it accidentally reads low and alarms when my BGs are on the low side of normal.

    And I have an insomniac partner who can really lose a night’s sleep after a startlingly loud alarm. I don’t want to leave Dex in the other room at night (that defeats the purpose) but I often have to.

    Hope they fix this!!

  2. Randy Anderson at

    Sam,
    I can relate to your situation, since my wife is sometimes awakened by my CGM alarms, whether low or high.  She complained about them a bit early on, but she has learned to sleep through them.  I’ve ameliorated the problem by putting the CGM at my side opposite my wife.  So, the CGM receiver is a bit more distant from her.  I’ve also experimented with the option of leaving the receiver on my night stand.  However, I get occasional receiver out-of-range alarms in that location.
    Since you sleep like a rock (I fondly remember those pre-children days when I did the same), you might also put the CGM next to your skin, so that you feel the vibration more intensely.  If you respond to it more quickly, there’s less opportunity for your girlfriend to be awakened by it.
    As for the “false positive” alarms, I’ve noticed that I have these only when I sleep laying on the sensor/transmitter.  The resulting trend graph can be “jumpy”. If I don’t have pressure on the sensor, the trend graph stays smooth.  With the Seven Plus sensors, I very seldom have sensor/meter discrepancies greater than 25mg/dl.
    Finally, I don’t think it is a good option to leave the receiver in another room at night.  Your health and well-being have to take priority here, even at the expense of this relationship.

  3. Sam Gellman
    Sam Gellman at

    Thanks Laura and Randy.
    I did get some feedback from Dexcom, basically saying:

    “If you are experiencing this a lot, for example the Dexcom reads at 50 when you are in the 90 range, then the technique of 3 finger sticks 10-15 minutes apart will fix this. You would calibrate it with one finger stick, wait around 15 minutes to see where the reading settles at, and if you feel it has not corrected enough or it begins to drift outside the range of accuracy again you can reconfirm with another finger stick. You will do this a max of 3 times if necessary, but usually by the second finger stick it corrects fully.”

    which shows a complete misunderstanding for the issue.  They then said they are elevating the request to the quality assurance team, so we’ll see if something changes in future releases of the product. 

    Thanks for the responses.

  4. Dominik S. at

    I’m with you guys. I just forwarded a link of this article to Dexcom to let them know that there are more of us out here who feel the same way as you guys do. I love my dexcom too, but getting quality sleep with type one diabetes is hard enough (reasons I wake up at night: lows, highs, bathroom, take my basal shot – and if I had kids and a partner, sleep would be almost non-existent) – I would rather not have my already fragmented sleep be interrupted by an alarm I can’t turn off, or more importantly, an alarm I can’t adjust to fit my particular needs. If I had it my way, I’d like to be able to set it to something around 45mg/dL. Some of us feel our low’s, so an option to turn this alarm off or adjust its levels (or switch it to ‘vibrate mode’) would be wonderful and give us more control over our diabetes management. I’m literally thinking of hiring a hacker and having them hack into my dexcom and re-programming it so this – at times really annoying – alarm doesn’t go off anymore! : )

    Plus, I’m already checking my dexcom like 20-30 times a day as it is – checking bg’s, inputting bg reading’s from meter, and putting in ‘events’ (carbs, insulin, exercise) – so for me – someone who feels their low’s – not having to deal with yet another thing (in this case an alarm) – really would be a welcome change.

    Do you guys think the choice to have this <55 alarm was implemented by dexcom, or the FDA? It would be interesting to know.

    I once talked to a dad whose gradeschool aged son refused to carry his dexcom on him while at school because he was too embarrassed of the <55 alarm going off in front of his classmates. Not the best reason not to wear it, but this issue could have easily been avoided if we could turn off, change to vibrate, or adjust the alarm levels to our liking.

    I really value having control/options when it comes to managing “my” diabetes. To all the wonderful people at Dexcom, please put more of that control back into our hands.

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