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Everything you need to know about the FreeStyle Libre

We have had so many people asking us about the FreeStyle Libre system – what it is, where you get it, how much it costs – that we asked Abbott, the manufacturers, for all the answers. Here they are!

What is the FreeStyle Libre?

FreeStyle Libre is a flash glucose monitoring system. When you scan the FreeStyle Libre sensor with a FreeStyle Libre reader (or a compatible smartphone*) you get a glucose (blood sugar) reading. It is a small sensor (the size of a R5 coin) that you insert into the back of your upper arm.

Using a FreeStyle Libre reader or an app (on your compatible smartphone), you scan the sensor for a blood glucose reading. No finger sticks**, and no need to calibrate. A one-second scan that you can repeat as many times as you like during the day. The sensor collects data on your blood glucose readings for 8 hours between scans, even while you sleep, so you have a constant picture of what your blood glucose is doing.

Find out more at

freestyle libre south africa

How much does it cost?

R1089 per sensor. Each sensor lasts two weeks, so you need two sensors a month. The FreeStyle Libre replaces finger stick blood glucose testing**. The app, FreeStyle LibreLink is available to download for free on the App store or Google Play.

Do medical aids cover the FreeStyle Libre?

The FreeStyle Libre is now covered by Discovery Health as part of the Discovery CGM Benefit! Here are all the details about how to claim this benefit.

If your medical aid rejects your request for a flash glucose monitor, you can complain to the CMS. Here’s exactly how to do that.

Where can I buy it?

Sensors are available online from the CDE Online Store (free shipping when you order two or more sensors) or Pharmacy Direct, a courier pharmacy that delivers anywhere in South Africa. You can also buy it in person at the CDE Pharmacy in Houghton, Johannesburg, or from M-Kem in Durbanville, Cape Town.

librelink app for freestyle libre south africa

Is it suitable for Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics?

The FreeStyle Libre is suitable for anyone on multiple daily injections (MDI) of insulin. It tracks your blood glucose throughout the day, so it’s helpful for diabetics trying to control their blood sugar.

Is the FreeStyle Libre difficult to put in?

Not at all – the entire unit comes in the box and it’s a simple click-and-push action. The whole thing takes less than five minutes.

What is the FreeStyle LibreLink app?

The FreeStyle LibreLink app is a free app that acts as a reader for the FreeStyle Libre sensor. You can monitor your blood sugar on your compatible smartphone, without finger sticks. View your current blood glucose reading, trend arrow (whether your blood sugar is going up or down), past history (readings up to the last 8 hours) and add notes on food, insulin and exercise. It also gives you easy access to trends and patterns – and lets you share your data with your doctor and loved ones.

What is the LibreLinkUp app?

The free LibreLinkUp app is for parents and caregivers who want to keep track of blood sugar readings from the FreeStyle Libre system. Up to 20 people can view results from a FreeStyle Libre system, from their phones.

Is LibreLink available on iPhone and Android?

Yes – you can use the FreeStyle LibreLink app on both iPhone and Android.

Here’s how to use it on iPhone:

And here’s how to use it on Android:

What is LibreView?

LibreView is a cloud-based diabetes management system to upload your data and create easy-to-read glucose reports. What that means is one central place for all your blood sugar readings to live. You can see trend reports, estimated HbA1c, mealtime patterns, daily and weekly patterns. You can then share this with your doctor for remote healthcare advice.

trends and patterns for freestyle libre

Can the FreeStyle Libre improve my blood sugar management?

Yes. Being able to check your blood sugar countless times a day is priceless. Seeing what happens to your blood sugar between tests is invaluable. Being able to see your time in range (what percentage of each day you spend in your target range) is enormously helpful. It gives you the tools to manage your diabetes better.

What to read next?

What is a CGM? Flash glucose monitoring and CGM: Not sure what the difference is, or what these words mean? Read this article.

We did it! How to claim the Discovery CGM Benefit: A step-by-step guide to claiming the new CGM Benefit.

Your options on the Discovery CGM Benefit: There are 3 CGM / flash glucose monitors available in South Africa. Here’s what they are, and how much they cost.

Important updates about the Discovery CGM Benefit: Including an easy way to claim.

* The use of FreeStyle LibreLink app and LibreLinkUp requires registration with LibreView, a service provided by Abbott and Newyu, Inc. FreeStyle Libre readers and sensors are provided by Abbott. The FreeStyle LibreLink app is compatible with NFC enabled phones running Android OS 5.0 or higher and with iPhone 7 and higher running OS 11 and higher. The FreeStyle LibreLink app and FreeStyle Libre reader have similar characteristics but are not identical.

A finger stick test using a blood glucose meter is required during times of rapidly changing glucose levels when interstitial fluid glucose levels may not accurately reflect blood glucose levels or if hypoglycaemia or impending hypoglycaemia is reported or when symptoms do not match the readings on the FreeStyle Libre reader or FreeStyle LibreLink apps.

** Finger sticks are required for treatment decisions when you see Check Blood Glucose symbol, when symptoms do not match system readings, when you suspect readings may be inaccurate, or when you experience symptoms that may be due to high or low blood glucose.

ADC-22708 V1 May 2020

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  1. Joan S Joan S

    Great product! I am using FreeStyle Libre sensors over 2 years with the NightRider BluCon and able to see reading updates on my Apple watch and don’t have to carry my phone any longer. I am also able to get alarms and share readings with my spouse.

    • alex alex

      Hi Joan, I am thinking of switching from the Medtronic device to the FreeStyle Libre but need alerts for low BG, so am interested in the NightRider Blucon. Have you ever experienced issues with the NightRider device failing to connect? I’ve read lots of reviews that this can sometimes happen. Would love to hear your experience and where you purchased it.

  2. Scoria Hamilton Scoria Hamilton

    Can you lay in tanning bed with the sensor is in your arm?

    • Hi Scoria! I asked Abbott and they said:
      This has not been tested and therefore we cannot recommend “a tanning bed laying time”.
      If the Sensor stops working due to extreme temperature, the user will get an error message indicating ‘Glucose Reading unavailable’. The FreeStyle Libre operating temperature range is 10°C to 45°C.

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Sweet Life is a registered NPO/PBO (220-984) with a single goal: to improve diabetes in South Africa. We are funded by sponsorships and donations from aligned companies and organisations who believe in our work. We only share information that we believe benefits our community. While some of this information is linked to specific brands, it is not an official endorsement of that brand. We believe in empowering people with diabetes to make the best decisions they can, to live a healthy, happy life with diabetes.