Whether you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, your body needs additional insulin. If you have Type 1 diabetes, you may take seven or more injections per day. Rather than go through this grueling routine, it may be to your benefit to consider using an insulin pump. If you’ve been thinking about this possibility but need to know more before making your decision, here is what you need to know about insulin pumps.
Who Should Use a Pump?
As stated earlier, an insulin pump may be a viable option for someone suffering from either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. However, certain factors will come into play that will help you and your doctor decide if a pump is right for you. For example, if you regularly experience severe highs and lows regarding your blood sugar levels, insulin pumps may be able to give you better control over this situation, since they can give your body insulin on a more regular basis. Also, since pumps can track the active insulin already in your body, they can keep you from stacking insulin and make weight control much easier.
How Does an Insulin Pump Work?
While you may think an insulin pump will be big and bulky, it will be anything but that. Usually consisting of an infusion set, reservoir or cartridge for the insulin, and batteries to operate the pump, it can be worn under clothing and be very discreet. In addition, most newer pumps are also waterproof, meaning you could likely wear it while doing a bit of swimming. The infusion set, made up of a tube and small catheter-like device called a cannula that is inserted under your skin, will connect to the reservoir of insulin inside your pump. The reservoir, or cartridge, will hold up to three days of rapid-acting insulin and is not pre-filled, meaning you will need to do this yourself. As for batteries, most newer models now use lithium or rechargeable batteries, which last up to four weeks.
Advantages of an Insulin Pump
If you are considering the use of an insulin pump, you can potentially enjoy many advantages. As stated earlier, you can greatly eliminate the severe highs or lows you may be experiencing with your blood sugar levels. In addition, you won’t have to take any more insulin shots, which as you know can be inconvenient and often not provide the measure of control you need for your blood sugar. Finally, by using an insulin pump, you can have a more customized approach to controlling your diabetes, since the pump will make sure you get the right amount of insulin needed at the right time. In fact, research has shown that as many as 55 percent of individuals who have Type 2 diabetes have been able to achieve A1C levels of less than eight percent by using an insulin pump.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Pump
If you decide you want to try an insulin pump, there will be many factors you will need to take into consideration when selecting the best pump for you and your specific needs. First, make sure it is one that’s very user-friendly and easy to navigate. After all, since getting the right amount of insulin delivered to your body is so critical, the last thing you need is a pump that leaves you with more questions than answers. Also, choose a pump that will hold the amount of insulin you’ll need until it’s time for a site change for your cannula. Other important factors to consider include whether you have a pump that can be charged up with an USB port, whether or not it has a continuous glucose monitor, and provides you with a touch screen or has buttons that require pushing with your fingers. Finally, also carefully consider the type of tech and customer service support you can expect from the pump’s manufacturer. Should you experience problems with it or have questions about its operation, you need people you can count on.
By thinking carefully about the pros and cons of an insulin pump and discussing these with your doctor, you can take the first step in gaining greater control over your diabetes.