Is An Insulin Pump Right For Me?
In the world of diabetes care, insulin pumps have been a game-changer. They allow more precise delivery of insulin. They reduce the number of highs and lows in glucose levels and let you live a more flexible lifestyle. And best of all, you only need one needle stick every few days rather than dozens. However, they’re not for everyone. Below are a few facts that can help you decide if an insulin pump is right for you.
What is an insulin pump and how does it work?
An insulin pump is a small gadget about the size of a deck of cards or a pager. You wear it on your body, usually clipped to your belt like a phone holster. Most pumps have a thin tube that runs from the pump to a catheter placed under your skin. The pump delivers insulin continuously, twenty-four hours a day, keeping your blood glucose within a normal range.
Important things you need to know
An insulin pump is just a delivery system. It doesn’t check your glucose levels (except for the newest pump models), and it can’t automatically tell when your body needs insulin. You have to program your pump to give you the right amount of insulin throughout your day. You can also set it to give you a dose of insulin before you eat so that your glucose levels don’t get too high after meals. This means that people who use insulin pumps need to test their blood sugar several times per day.
You have to be very attuned to your body if you use an insulin pump. You need to know how to balance the food you eat and the amount of insulin you take. You need to know how much insulin to give yourself when your glucose is high. You should know how to adjust your dose if your daily routine changes, and be able to adjust it to your physical activity level so that you don’t “crash.”
In return, you get to tailor your insulin usage to your life, rather than living your life around your insulin doses.
Is a pump a good choice for you?
Pump supplies can be expensive. And the fact that you must wear your pump around the clock can also be a drawback for some people. However, for many people the pros outweigh the cons.
To be considered for an insulin pump, you must:
- Be able to show that your body is no longer making its own insulin
- Be taking at least three insulin shots each day
- Have a sound history of checking your blood sugar every single day—at least four times per day for the past six months
- Have taken some type of fast-acting insulin
- Have at least six months’ experience in reading and treating both high and low glucose levels
- Not have any other conditions that would stop you from using a pump
If you think a pump might be a good choice for you, talk to your diabetes care team. If they think you’re ready, you’ll attend a training session, then have a period of monitored use as you learn to use it in daily life.
Insulin pumps have many benefits. Rather than multiple daily injections, you only have to “poke” yourself every two or three days when you change the catheter. Since they provide continuous insulin, you have less variation in your glucose levels and fewer incidences of low blood sugar. But best of all, they allow you to live your life the way you want to.