Are you someone who needs multiple daily insulin injections to manage your diabetes? If so, you may be considering whether an insulin pump is right for you.
Insulin pumps have been available for the last 40 years. Over time, the software used in the devices— and the devices themselves— have improved as technology has continued to advance. If you’re curious about insulin pumps as a diabetes management tool, here’s what you need to know.
What is an insulin pump?An insulin pump is a delivery device for insulin. The device delivers rapid-acting insulin in small amounts continuously throughout the day and night to provide basal or background coverage.
When using an insulin pump, individuals are also able to give themselves small doses of rapid-acting insulin called bolus doses to cover insulin needs for food intake or to correct elevated blood glucose levels.
Insulin pumps often use tubing to deliver insulin through a cannula on the skin. The cannula is changed regularly by the individual wearing the insulin pump. Another model of the insulin pump attaches directly to the skin without tubing.
Advancements in Insulin Pump Therapy
Today, automated insulin delivery pumps are available for patient use. These devices use an insulin pump, a continuous glucose meter, and a software algorithm to provide automatic insulin delivery adjustments for basal rates based on the user’s blood glucose levels. Many of these systems have a suspend feature. This feature turns off insulin delivery for a set period of time when a patient experiences a hypoglycemic event. Some research suggests that these integrated devices may be beneficial in reducing hypoglycemic events, especially those induced by physical activity.
Benefits of Using Insulin Pump Devices
Eliminates the need for multiple daily injections
Offers the ability to make precise adjustments to insulin regimen
Offers the ability to discreetly bolus insulin for eating or to correct high blood glucose levels
Advanced automated insulin delivery pumps provide “real-time” basal adjustments to insulin based on an individual’s blood glucose level, and suspend the option to temporarily stop delivery of insulin after a hypoglycemic event.
Deciding between an insulin pump and multi-daily injection regimen is a highly individualized choice. Finances and personal preference can play a role in the decision-making process. The foundation for successful implementation of insulin pump use is education. At Cecelia Health, we invest in both technology and in Certified Diabetes Educators (CDEs). CDEs are the man-power behind enhancing an individual's ability to use various diabetes technology tools, like insulin pumps, more effectively. To find out more information about whether or not an insulin pump is a technology tool that might be a good fit for managing your diabetes, speak with your healthcare provider and/or CDE.
Written by Alison Massey MS, RD, LDN, CDE. Alison Massey MS, RD, LDN, CDE is a certified diabetes educator, registered dietitian and freelance writer in Maryland.