Sudden Sensor Death Syndrome

Pictures from Medtronic's Product Pages

The Medtronic continuous glucose monitor that I wear has sensors that are FDA approved for 3 days at a time. Given, however, the expense and the pain involved with replacing the sensor, I, like many others, try to wear the sensors for as long as they will last.

Typically, I replace the sensor after five or six days, when it loses all signal and stops tracking glucose levels at all. I can tell its time has come when it shows a gradual decline in blood sugar, finally reporting that my blood glucose is tanking, displaying the threatening “Below 40” message, when I know my blood sugar to be higher than that. Usually, I try to save the sensor, resetting it and pushing it around in the (often but not always futile) hope that it will revive itself and find my interstitial current again.

The last few sensors, though, have not shown this gradual decline and loss of signal. Rather, the signal is strong, tracking closely my glucose-meter blood sugar measurements. Then, all of the sudden, bam! Nothing. Weak signal alerts, and, after an hour or so of no data, a “Lost Sensor” alert. Game Over.

I assumed the first couple of times that this was just an alternate form of sensor death, similar to the typical decline but more sudden and disappointing. The third time around, though, something occurred to me– maybe the sensor itself is fine, but I’m losing power in the transmitter. That would explain the strong signal, but sudden loss of reception from the pump.

So, last night, when I was awoken at 2 AM by a buzzing “Lost Sensor” alert, I decided not to remove the existing sensor and replace it. Instead, I disconnected the transmitter and recharged it, leaving the sensor in. (If I were really clever, I would have tried to disconnect and immediately reconnect the transmitter, to check to make sure that the issue was one of power and not just stability of connection. However, it was two in the morning, so clever I was not.)

Once recharged, I reconnected the transmitter to the old sensor. Et voile! Success! The sensor had to re-start and re-calibrate, but the signal was strong and I was good to go. A few more precious days squeezed out of the sensor, and the mysterious problem of Sudden Sensor Death Syndrome solved!

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7 years ago

Although I am experiencing the same exact problems, which may I say are driving me insane, I do not understand how one would be able to remove the covering bandage without pulling out the sensor. The whole purpose of the bandage is to prevent exactly that.

I am finding my usage of the meter inhibited by this problem and the frustration I get over it. Before each use I charge my sensor as is expected.

Reading the above, I have changed all batteries and I am hoping that that helps.

11 years ago

Great to hear.  I’ve used my sensor 2 times, 6 days and had no problem as well.  My big question is when I get my sensors they usually expire in 60 days!!
Has anyone had the experience of using the sensors after expiration?  I try to stock up on them in case I lose my insurance.

11 years ago

Wow! That is a great discovery and one to share with Medtronic.  I wish all of you who share this experience of Karmel’s did not have to have pain, but sharing your knowledge and discoveries will lead to progress!  Please post responses!

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