For individuals with diabetes who require insulin management, insulin pumps provide precise insulin delivery and can provide many benefits, including improved control of blood glucose levels, and may help to reduce the risk of developing complications associated with diabetes.
What is an Insulin Pump?
An insulin pump is a device that continuously delivers precise amounts of insulin to an individual in order to control blood glucose levels without injections. Individuals with diabetes who require insulin therapy should work closely with their doctor and diabetes management team to determine whether an insulin pump is the insulin delivery method that best meets their specific needs.
Monitoring blood glucose levels is still a necessary step when using an insulin pump. However, an insulin pump may provide many advantages over injections, including more accurate insulin dosing, reduced episodes of hypo- and hyperglycemia, greater discretion, and a more flexible and active lifestyle. Additionally, advances in insulin pump technology have resulted in pumps that work in tandem with continuous glucose monitors and automatically adjust insulin delivery in response to changing insulin needs.
There are various types of insulin pumps available to meet the needs of each individual. A touchscreen insulin pump with smartphone styling is one of the newest models of insulin pumps available. These pumps provides users with familiar touchscreen technology and are indicated for children as young as six years old.
How Does an Insulin Pump Work?
An insulin pump continuously delivers precise amounts of insulin through a small tube into a catheter, which is placed under the skin and which enables the insulin to enter the body. Your doctor helps determine the best placement site for the catheter. The most common sites include the abdomen, hips, upper-back of arms, and thighs. Insulin pumps typically utilize rapid-acting insulin, which works quickly to begin to lower blood glucose levels, and which when delivered in small accurate doses can keep blood glucose levels steady without insulin injections.
Learning How to Use an Insulin Pump
Individuals getting started with an insulin pump work with their diabetes management team to determine the amount of insulin necessary to keep blood glucose levels within normal range outside of meals. The rate of insulin delivery required outside of meals is called the basal rate. The process for determining one’s basal rate includes understanding an individual’s level of insulin sensitivity, which refers to how effective the body is at using insulin to lower the amount of glucose in the blood. Insulin pumps are programmed to deliver a specific individualized basal rate, which can be changed to accommodate a variety of lifestyle changes, such as exercise, sleep, and travel.
Some individuals may need to use different amounts of insulin at different times of the day. For example, some people tend to be more or less insulin resistant upon waking. For this reason, slightly more or less insulin may be necessary when a person wakes. Insulin pumps can be configured with different settings for different times of day to accommodate a person’s individual changing insulin requirements.
For example, people who play sports or who participate in regular, vigorous exercise may need to administer different amounts of insulin during or after exercise.
Individuals must also work with their diabetes management team to determine proper insulin delivery amounts at meal time. This type of insulin administration is called a bolus, and its purpose is to keep blood sugar levels within normal range when carbohydrates are consumed and converted into glucose by the body. Insulin pumps are a convenient and discrete way to deliver a bolus without needing vials and syringes.
Each individual is unique and requires a tailored management plan based on the specific needs of their body. Speak with your doctor to learn more about managing your blood glucose levels with an insulin pump.
Have you used an insulin pump?
Share your thoughts and comments with us.