Health and Medical

How Does an Insulin Pump Work to Control Your Blood Sugar Levels?

People suffering from Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes need to take insulin for managing their blood sugar levels. For those who are tired of using insulin injections, an insulin pump is a welcome relief. 

Melissa Thompson of Diabetes 365 notes “An insulin pump is a small digital device that delivers insulin through a thin flexible plastic tube called a catheter tube that goes under the skin. This type of diabetes technology makes life a little bit easier for the type 1 diabetes community.”

Purpose of insulin pump

An insulin pump releases insulin in the same natural way as your body does. 

  • In a measured and continuous dose during day and night called the basal insulin
  • An extra dose at mealtime called a bolus to control the rising sugar levels from the food that you ate.
  • The pump is programmed for both bolus and basal doses
  • You can program for a bigger bolus to compensate for the carbs in your diet if you eat more than usual

How is it used?

Insulin pumps use short but fast-acting insulin rather than long-acting as the pump is set to administer a tiny quantity of insulin continually to maintain your sugar levels consistently.

The device is the size of a smartphone and is attached to your body by using an infusion set. 

  • Insulin doses are delivered through a thin, flexible plastic tube called the catheter
  • The catheter is inserted into the skin with the help of a small needle and is taped in place
  • The entire combination of the tube and needle is called an infusion set.
  • It is put in your belly, buttock, or thighs which is called the infusion area.

Advantages of an insulin pump

  • Less number of needle sticks are needed
  • A pump needs one shot in a few days while changing the infusion set
  • More accurate than shots and improves the blood sugar levels
  • Helps to optimize sugar levels in case of low sugar
  • Helps to manage early morning high blood sugar levels
  • Using an insulin pump may help rates for type 1 diabetes life insurance

Disadvantages

  • You need to keep monitoring your sugar levels
  • If the pump stops working, it can cause blood sugar levels to rise to cause diabetes ketoacidosis (DKA), which is dangerous.
    • Hence, regular insulin injections should be kept in handy 
  • Information is to be entered into the pump all day and the infusion set has to be changed every few days.
  • Proper training is needed to understand how the pump works
  • The supplies of the pump can be expensive

Choosing a pump

Choosing an insulin pump is a personal choice as all of them have benefits and drawbacks. Your choice depends on your priority.

  • If you need a traditional pump, tubeless or pump with a remote
  • For kids, pumps with small reservoirs would be suitable, adults might want larger ones
  • If the pump delivers insulin in small dosages which are necessary for kids and sensitive people 
  • Check if the pump includes the carb counts of common foods to decide the amount of insulin you need
  • If the pump can interact with a continuous glucose meter (CGM) and the software is compatible with your phone or laptop
  • Check if your insurance company covers the pump you have selected.

Research well which insulin pump would be best for you. Speak with a doctor about the options.

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