Diabetes Insulin Pump - An Introduction
A diabetes insulin pump
is used to
administer a dose of insulin through a catheter underneath your skin (a
is just a thin tube that allows fluids to be delivered or
withdrawn from the body). Although insulin pumps are mostly used by people
with Type 1 diabetes, those with type 2 diabetes
sometimes use them as well.
The pump, which is a small programmable computer, is connected to your body
24 hours a day and is a replacement for insulin shots. It delivers a steady
"trickle" of fast-acting insulin throughout the entire day. This
basal amount of insulin is programmed into the pump and is meant to
keep your blood sugar levels within the target range set by your
doctor, for times that you're not eating, as well as overnight. When you eat,
the pump is used to deliver an extra amount of insulin (called a bolus
dose) to counteract the increased blood glucose after a meal.
Advantages of Using an Insulin Pump
- Flexibility. A pump lets you plan your insulin doses around your lifestyle,
rather than having to plan your lifestyle around your insulin. Many people find
that sticking to a rigid eating and exercise schedule is too difficult. An
insulin pump lets you program your insulin doses to match your schedule.
- It's easy to use. You just push a button to get an extra dose of insulin.
- Pumps are more accurate than injections.
- Injections are no longer necessary.
- It's easier to keep your blood glucose levels within your target range.
Insulin is delivered all day long (and overnight). And because you can get an
extra dose of insulin whenever you need it, it minimizes swings in blood sugar
levels, whether it's too high (hyperglycemia,
or too low (hypoglycemia).
Disadvantages of an Insulin Pump
- A pump can be expensive (but sometimes health insurance policies will cover the cost of equipment).
- Some people find it inconvenient to be attached to the pump all the time.
- There's a risk of developing diabetic ketoacidosis which can lead to
diabetic coma. Although rare in type 2 diabetics, it can occur if your
catheter comes out, and insulin isn't delivered to you for several hours.
- You may be required to stay in the hospital for a short period to be trained
in the use of the pump.
- It takes time to get adjusted to using a pump. You will need to figure out
an injection site as well as where to wear the pump. Many people wear it on their
belt or in a waistband, however not everyone is comfortable wearing it in plain
sight. You can purchase pump holders or use a hidden pocket (or sew one into your clothes).
- Always carry a backup to your insulin pump. Carry extra batteries, extra
insulin, and pump supplies. You will also need to carry an insulin syringe or
insulin pen, just in case your pump fails.
- When playing sports, you may need to disconnect the pump. The amount of
time it can stay disconnected will vary from person to person, so
blood glucose levels before and after the activity.
- Most pumps are not waterproof. You will need to disconnect it if you're
swimming, taking a bath or a shower. You may be able to buy a waterproof case
for your pump.
- Regularly check your blood glucose to ensure it's not too high or too low.
- Regularly check to make sure your catheter is still connected and there
are no kinks in the tubing. Get a pump with an alarm that tells you if
the tube is blocked.
- Check your blood glucose levels before you disconnect the pump for any
- Continue to eat a portion-controlled,
An insulin pump gives you the flexibility to eat what you want, but that can lead to weight gain.
Additional weight gain can lead to increased
Work closely with your doctor and diabetes educator to make sure that you
have the pump programmed properly for your individual needs. Together you can
figure out the right dosages of insulin and how often you need to check your
blood sugar. Keep good records
that include not just your blood glucose levels, but also your carbohydrate consumption,
exercise, and any changes in insulin dosages. These records can help tremendously in case
your insulin needs adjustment. A diabetes insulin pump has both advantages and disadvantages,
so discuss it with your doctor to see if it's the right option for you.
The information on this website is based on our own research and personal experience,
and is not a substitute for medical advice. Questions about your health and individual
situation should be directed to your doctor.