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Insulin Pump Pros And Cons: Is It Right for You?

Insulin Pump Pros And Cons: Is It Right for You?

Anyone with diabetes, regardless of their age or what type of diabetes they have, undergoes several kinds of treatment and maintenance management to control their blood sugar levels. As the hormone responsible for regulating glucose in the body, insulin is sometimes needed. However, not all diabetics are inclined to reach for insulin pens and injectables, especially those who need higher doses of insulin on a daily basis. This is why an insulin pump becomes an alternative.

What Is an Insulin Pump?

An insulin pump is a portable, wearable device similar in size to a beeper. It is a machine that transmits and delivers a steady supply of insulin to the body on a prearranged schedule. It helps many individuals administer the respective dosages accordingly and appropriately at a given timeframe.

Types of Insulin Pumps

There are two different types of pumps to choose from:

  • Traditional Insulin Pump: The traditional version is comprised of three main parts, which are the pump, the tubing, and the infusion set, which can either be angled or straight. The smaller thin flexible tubing (cannula) is used to administer the insulin flow and pump it to the desired skin attachment. The body of the pump also provides you with buttons, enabling you to set your own insulin administration before and after meals, the specific basal rates types, and, even the option to interrupt the infusion when needed.
  • Insulin Patch Pump: This specific type is enclosed in a small case with the following main parts: the reservoir or the container, the pumping mechanism, and the self-adhesive infusion set, which the patient should wear or stick to the body. A second device controls the patch pump remotely, allowing regular insulin delivery before, during, and after meals depending on the doctor’s prescription.

There are also a variety of pumps available with extra features that may better help you with the infusion process. Some have systems with the continuous glucose monitor built in, while others provide wireless control.

Other notable user specifications for other styles and brands of this handheld device are:

  • Controllable functions through the touchscreen
  • Water resistance
  • Alarms and updates to schedule reminders
  • Customizable bolus settings

How to Use an Insulin Pump

It is relatively easy to use an insulin pump even if you’re going to administer the infusion yourself.

The device supplies the body’s required insulin dosage in either of these two ways:

  • Basal insulin provides small but sustained doses of insulin.
  • Bolus insulin releases insulin right before meals.

The pump calculates how much bolus insulin you need based on the information you enter for your food intake and blood sugar levels. After that, the pump will then suggest a bolus dose and will wait for your consent before administering the infusion. Other pumps automatically alter the baseline doses depending on the glucose levels measured on the attached continuous glucose monitor.

Take note, it is still important to monitor your blood sugar levels from time to time before operating this device.

Pros of Using an Insulin Pump

More often than not, patients with Type 1 diabetes consider these pumps to be a better option than insulin pens or injections. Take note of the following advantages:

  • Fewer injection prickings
  • Consistent and programmable insulin administration
  • Greater control over the different basal rates throughout the day
  • Flexibility in terms of food intake and movement
  • Improvement in the control of blood sugar levels
  • Reduced risk of serious complications and other comorbidities

Cons of Using an Insulin Pump

Despite all the benefits, there are a few considerations.

  • More costly than the typical insulin pens/injections
  • Risk for skin infections (especially on the attachment site)
  • Frequent checking and testing of blood sugar levels throughout the day
  • The steep learning curve in terms of usability and functionality
  • Repair for pumps and tubings over time

Key Takeaway

Most people find using an insulin pump a convenient and effective alternative to administer insulin. If you want to learn more about this device, consult your doctor.

Learn more about Diabetes here.


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Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Insulin Pump Overview – How Insulin Pumps Work, Who Benefits From Them, and Different Types of Pumps, https://www.endocrineweb.com/guides/insulin/insulin-pump-overview, Accessed September 8, 2021

How Insulin Pumps Work, https://www.diabetes.co.uk/insulin/how-insulin-pumps-work.html, Accessed September 8, 2021

Pros and Cons of Insulin Pumps, https://www.diabetes.co.uk/insulin-pumps/pros-cons-of-insulin-pumps.html, Accessed September 8, 2021

Who Should Use a Pump, https://www.diabetes.org/healthy-living/devices-technology/who-should-use-a-pump, Accessed September 8, 2021

Insulin Pumps: What Is It & Types, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/9811-insulin-pumps, Accessed September 8, 2021

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Written by Fiel Tugade Updated Mar 14
Medically reviewed by Janie-Vi Villamor Ismael-Gorospe, MD