Insulin Pump Therapy: How It Works, Advantages & Disadvantages


Insulin pump therapy is a term well-known to anyone dealing with diabetes. In the vast sea of various medical innovations, an insulin pump is one of the most used ones; considering the hike in the number of people dealing with diabetes. Insulin pump therapy is used by thousands of people of all ages. The therapy is known to allow ease as well as flexibility in the lifestyle of individuals suffering from diabetes .

[Source: MedicoRx]

In recent times, insulin pump therapy has become the standard of care for the management of type 1 diabetes, a reflection of the effectiveness of the procedure. Read on to know more about the insulin pump and its related factors.

An insulin pump is a small, computerised device that continuously delivers insulin throughout the day. For people with diabetes, it is critical to maintaining blood sugar levels in a safe range so as to control and maintain further complications . The pump mimics the manner through which the human pancreas work, that is, by delivering small doses of short-acting insulin continuously (basal rate) and by delivering variable amounts of insulin when a meal is eaten (bolus rate).

An insulin pump helps in matching your insulin levels to your lifestyle, and not like the usual methods which require you to change your lifestyle according to the insulin levels. The pump helps in keeping your blood glucose levels within your target range. The pump is commonly used by individuals with type 1 diabetes, however, there has been a rise in the number of individuals with type 2 diabetes using it as well , .

The insulin pump is almost the size of a smartphone and can be carried inside a pocket, on a belt or even attached to a bra. The device will be attached to your body through a thin tube called an infusion set. It is through the infusion set the insulin is delivered to your body .

That is, the pump stimulates the pancreatic function in a controlled manner as it is operated by the individual wearing it. The controlled use helps the person in managing their insulin needs accordingly. The insulin pump, therefore, replaces the need for multiple daily injections with a continuous insulin infusion. It also helps in improving blood sugar levels , .

The small device is worn on your body. Insulin pumps deliver insulin to your body 24 hours a day, non-stop. The device delivers insulin through a tube (catheter), which is connected to a thin cannula that is placed into the layer of fat under your skin. It is typically around your stomach area. The comfortable size of the device makes it easier to be carried out, as it can be clipped on to your belt, pocket, bra or even on an armband , .

The insulin is pumped from the reservoir through the tube and is infused into your body through the infusion set (which is inserted into your skin). The small cannula in the infusion set will be placed under your skin. The pump and the tubing can be easily disconnected and reconnected to your body (which is beneficial while taking a bath or carrying out some physical activities such as sports) .

As aforementioned, the insulin pumps deliver insulin in two ways. In a steady measured and continuous dose, called as the basal insulin, and as a surge dose around the mealtime called a bolus dose .

Basal rate: It is the small amount of insulin that your insulin pump continuously provides you. The pre-programmed rate is determined by your body's needs, as well as according to the programming by the doctor . The small amounts of insulin supplied on a daily basis are for the normal functions of your body and do not include food. It mimics the insulin that has to be produced by the pancreas.

Bolus rate: It is the additional amount of insulin, which is delivered to your body according to the additional demands. That is, the insulin is supplied to match the food you are going to consume, as well as to correct the levels of blood sugar. It is the "on demand" supply of insulin . The insulin pumps have built-in calculators that help calculate the bolus amount based on the settings determined by your doctor (which is based on your glucose levels and the amount of carbohydrates you are going to consume).

The basal rate and the bolus rate will be determined by your doctor.

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Although there is a variety of the device available, the most common ones are traditional insulin pumps and insulin patch pumps.

Traditional insulin pumps: It has an insulin reservoir and a pumping mechanism. The device will be attached to your body with tubing and an infusion set. The pump consists of buttons that allow the programming of insulin delivery for meals and the specific types of basal rates .

Insulin patch pumps: These are worn directly on the body. It has a reservoir, a pumping mechanism and an infusion set. The patch pumps are controlled wirelessly using a separate device which allows the programming of insulin delivery in accordance with the meals consumed .

The innovative diabetes measuring and managing device, as well as the therapy, possess various advantages , .

Along with the plethora of benefits it offers, it is not surprising that the therapy has certain disadvantages as well .

The pump is not a necessity but a choice. So before adopting to use the pump, you need to be sure and aware of the facts pertaining to it. Insulin pump therapy, doctors assert that have been successful and effective for any age. It is entirely the decision of the individual whether or not they want to use the pump in treating and managing their diabetes. A lot of individuals with Type 1 diabetes have been opting to use the pump due to the advantages it possesses .

Before considering to use the pump, go through the following points to take a second look so as to make sure that you can do it; because insulin pump safety is a commitment , .

Once you are completely aware and positive that you can undergo the therapy, you may consult a medical practitioner who will help you further. Initially, you will be required to stay at the hospital for a period of time; where you will be under observation. This is done to make sure whether you will be able to manage the pump effectively by yourself, once you leave the hospital.

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Along with the extreme ease of use, the insulin pumps require the individual to be aware of the whole procedure, that is in case any complications arise .

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