An End to Monotony
Every diabetic knows how tedious multiple daily injections of insulin can be. Insulin pumps are one way to end this monotonous cycle. Many people shy away from using insulin pumps as a blood glucose regulating system simply because they do not understand what it is that they do. If insulin pumps are compatible with your needs, they can be a great alternative to other blood glucose regulating systems.
A Few Basic Facts
An insulin pump is a small electronic device usually used by people with type 1 diabetes. Generally, the pump is about the size of a standard pager and can hold about 180 to 315 units of insulin. It can be worn all day with some exceptions, such as swimming, showering, etc. The pump can be placed in your pocket, bra, or even underwear.
The insulin pump separates your insulin doses into three categories: basal rates, bolus doses to cover carbohydrates intake at meals, and correction or supplemental doses. Basal insulin is delivered continuously and keeps your blood glucose levels in range between meals and overnight.
Pros and Cons
The main advantage to an insulin pump is that it can improve your A1C levels better, in many cases, than self-injected insulin. Pumps generally make blood glucose levels more stable, avoiding steep spikes and severe lows that can cause medical problems.
However, using an insulin pump does have some drawbacks. They are expensive, even after insurance kicks in. Some diabetics find them annoying because you must wear it round the clock, and being fitted with a pump can require a hospital stay. Also, if your catheter comes out and you don’t get insulin for an extended period of time, it can result in a condition known as diabetic ketoacidosis.
What Type of Insulin Pump is Best for You?
There are three main types of insulin pumps, connected with tubes or infusion sets, tubeless, and implantable. The first are insulin pumps connected with tubes or infusion sets. These pumps are the most common and are characterized by the fact that the pump is worn outside of the body and connected to the person by strong tubing known as an infusion set. The insulin is transferred from the pump to a corresponding tube under the person (cannula).
The next type of pump is the tubeless pump which is placed directly on the skin. Insulin is transferred from the pump to the body without the use of tubes.
The last type of pump is the implantable tube. While this type of pump might seem like the most convenient, keep in mind it is generally used for research not day to day life. The pump is surgically implanted beneath the skin and insulin is transferred from the pump to the peritoneal area (the space between the abdominal muscles and the organs). The pump can be refilled from outside the body, and refilling usually occurs every 40 days.
A Hands on Approach
The best way to know what type of blood glucose regulating system is right for you is through research and hands on experience. Visit your doctor and discuss various options. You may find that the pump you initially chose is not the best option for you. In addition, ask to see and feel each pump. Is the size right? Are you able to understand how to use it? All of these are important questions to ask yourself before you invest in a pump of your own. Another tip is to search around for cheaper models of insulin pumps. These pumps can be just as effective as more expensive models. If you have your heart set on a certain model, try asking a competitor to match a deal.
diabetes-insulin-pump-therapy.com: Types of Pumps
diabetes.org: American Diabetes Association- Insulin Pumps
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