Last Update on September 27, 2022
To control their blood sugar levels, all people with type 1 diabetes and many people with type 2 must take insulin. Currently, there are two ways to inject it: using an insulin pump or a needle and pen.
An insulin pump is a little digital device. Through a little tube that is inserted beneath your skin, it distributes insulin.
As those who have diabetes are familiar with it, it is essential to maintain normal blood sugar levels. Being healthy and maintaining good blood sugar control helps you avoid long-term diabetes consequences like blindness, renal failure, and heart disease.
Insulin, a hormone that supports the body in using sugar (glucose), a vital source of energy produced from carbs, is absent in people with type 1 diabetes. If you have type 1 diabetes, you must use insulin therapy to compensate for the shortage of insulin.
Diabetes type 2 patients generate insulin, but their bodies either don’t utilize it effectively or don’t produce enough of it. Often, medication, diet, and exercise can successfully control blood sugar levels. However, in some conditions, insulin therapy is required to improve blood sugar management because these approaches are insufficient.
Although self-injection of insulin is an option, persons who number likely daily injections of insulin may want to think about utilizing an insulin pump.
Short-acting insulin is continuously delivered throughout the day via an insulin pump. Long-acting insulin is not necessary thanks to the insulin pump. A pump also helps to lower blood sugar levels by replacing the need for several daily injections with a continuous insulin infusion.
2. What is an insulin pump?
The insulin pump is a little electronic device that continuously provides the normal insulin your body requires throughout the day and night.
This can help you maintain blood sugar levels within your desired range, but in order for it to function correctly; you’ll need to use it most of the time.
Additionally, you will still require backup diabetes equipment so you can administer insulin injections if necessary.
3. Types of insulin Pumps:
There are multiple insulin pumps available, and your diabetes care team can advise you in selecting the one that is best for you. There are primarily two categories of pump devices:
- Traditional Insulin pumps
- Insulin patch pumps
3.1. Traditional Insulin pumps:
Traditional insulin pumps connect to the body with tubing and an infusing set and have insulin storage (or container) and a pumping motor. The buttons on the pump body enable you to schedule insulin delivery for meals, particular kinds of basal rates, or to stop the insulin infusion if necessary.
All the controls are often located on the pump itself, which you can wear on your belt, in your pocket, or in a body band. If you don’t want it to be visible, you can conceal it by wearing clothing.
The color, size, and other characteristics of tethered pumps can vary, and some even come with optional extras like Bluetooth remotes.
3.2. Insulin patch pumps:
Insulin patch pumps have storage, a pumping system, and an infusion set all contained inside a small box and are placed directly on the body. A different device that enables the configuration of insulin delivery for meals from the patch controls patch pumps wirelessly.
Patch pumps don’t have any additional tubing, so the pump fits directly on your skin and is operated by a remote.
Patch pumps are not tethered pumps; they are thrown away. When the pump informs you, you must replace the entire device, not just the infusion set and location.
Other types are:
A drop of blood from your fingertip is used to assess blood sugar levels using blood glucose meters, which many pumps wirelessly communicate with. Some pumps can wirelessly communicate with continuous glucose monitors, which are implanted under the skin and continuously check blood sugar levels. Your healthcare practitioner can help you choose the best pump for your needs. The majority of insurance providers offer variable out-of-pocket costs for insulin pump therapy.
Pumps differ in terms of how much insulin they can store, whether or not they have touch screens or are waterproof, and how many advanced features they include in addition to safety features. Programmable boluses, personalized reminders, notifications for missing bolus doses or glucose measurements, and alarms in the event of a blockage that inhibits the continuous infusion of insulin through the pump are some examples of safety and user features. If the blood glucose level falls below a predetermined low threshold level, one of the integrated systems that combine an insulin pump and a continuous glucose monitoring sensor can be designed to stop delivering insulin.
Most pump manufacturers offer a 30-day time limit for returns after the ship date. After being properly trained to use the pump, you may be able to return it if it turns out that it is not a suitable fit for you. Check the return policies for devices and the payment of any deductibles or copayments offered by your insurance provider before making a purchase.
4. Parts of an Insulin Pump:
Three parts make up standard insulin pumps:
- Pump: Traditional insulin pumps have a pumping mechanism, insulin storage (or container), and buttons or a touch screen to control the distribution of the drug. Insulin is delivered to your body via an infusion set using tubing and pumps.
- Tube: Insulin flows into the epidermis through the infusion set through a small plastic pipe (catheter) attached to the insulin storage. There are many different sizes and lengths of tubing. Based on how you wear the insulin pump, they are selected. For those who wear their pumps away from the infusion set, longer tubing might be beneficial.
- Infusion sets: Teflon or steel infusion kits with a sticky patch adhere to your skin. A short, thin tube (cannula) with a small needle contained inside it is located on the underside of the infusion set and is injected into your skin to give insulin to a layer of fatty tissue. To pierce the skin and install the set, a needle is required. The narrow cannula remains under the skin when the needle is removed from the insertion site. The set can also be implanted on the thigh, hips, upper arms, or buttocks. It is typically inserted around the stomach area.
Insulin storage, a pumping mechanism, and a needle are the three main components of a patch pump. The device is worn directly on the body and fastens using a self-adhesive, in contrast to conventional pumps where the parts are separated into separate cases without tubing. By programming the patch’s activation from a distance, the cannula is inserted automatically after the patch has been applied to the skin. Every three days, the patch pumps are typically changed out.
5. How Do Insulin Pumps Work?
Small, automated devices called insulin pumps continually deliver small dosages of short-acting insulin, simulating the actions of the human pancreas. When a meal is consumed, the device is also utilized to give varying doses of insulin (bolus). You can have one or more basal settings programmed in your pump depending on your needs, and the basal insulin rates are often set up in your pump with your doctor.
Directly on the pump, you can select the insulin doses for your meal dose. To determine how much insulin you need at mealtime depending on your blood sugar levels and the number of carbohydrates you are eating, most pumps have built-in bolus calculators.
The insulin is delivered by a tube (catheter), which is attached to a small needle. The needle is inserted into the layer of fat beneath your skin, usually in the area around your stomach. The pump can be carried in a pump case around your waist, strapped to a belt or bra, tucked into a pocket, or worn on an armband. You can carry your insulin pump stylishly with a choice of specially manufactured attachments.
You will require practical instruction from your diabetes care team to use an insulin pump. You will learn from them how to charge equipment, choose an infusion site, switch out an infusion set, turn off the machine, compute and program basal and bolus dosages, troubleshoot potential issues, make contingency plans in case the pump breaks down, and avoid diabetic ketoacidosis.
6. Advantages of an Insulin Pump:
- Minimal needle sticking will be required. Every few days when you switch your infusion set, a pump needs one shot.
- Since a pump is more precise than a shot, it can help you better control your blood sugar levels.
- Less blood sugar lows will occur, which is crucial if hypoglycemia is a frequent occurrence for you.
- Your A1c levels may go up as a result.
- It is a simple device to deliver doses for meals and snacks.
- Making plans for exercising is simpler.
- Bolusing is simpler.
- The “dawn phenomenon,” also known as early-morning elevated blood sugar, is managed with its aid.
- You should always have daily injecting insulin on hand in case the pump stops working.
7. Disadvantages of an Insulin Pump:
- The pump will require constant data input, and the infusion set will need to be replaced every several days.
- You must be dedicated to using it responsibly, which includes monitoring your blood sugar to make sure the pump is operating as it should. You run the danger of developing diabetic ketoacidosis, a potentially fatal condition (DKA).
- To learn how to use the pump, you’ll require training, which calls for several consultations with your medical team or a whole day of outpatient instruction.
- Pump accessories can be costly.
You might not benefit from an insulin pump if:
- Wearing a diabetes-disclosing device is not something you want to do.
- You dislike how wearing a device makes you feel.
- You don’t feel confident using the pump.
- You shouldn’t monitor your blood sugar more than four times per day.
- You’re unsure of whether you want to put up the effort to calculate insulin dosage, carb intake, and physical activity.