An insulin pump is a great tool to help manage your diabetes. However, it is not a cure for your diabetes and takes quite a bit of work to set up and get the most out of.
Benefits of Using an Insulin Pump
- Flexible meal and snack times
- Adjusts basal and bolus delivery to variable work & activity schedules
- Can deliver bolus of insulin in very small precise increments
- Math errors are less likely
Improved Blood Glucose Control
- Less extreme fluctuations (with proper programming & training)
- Less hypoglycemia
- Basal rates can be individualized to keep your glucose level steady 24 hrs a day
- Basal rates can be increased for menstruation or illness and reduced for exercise or more active days
- Adjustable bolus types to better match food absorption
- Fewer injections
- Insulin is always with you
- Some pumps have predictive algorithms which can decrease insulin delivery to help avoid hypoglycemia
Drawbacks of Using an Insulin Pump
- Costs will be different for pump therapy and insurance coverage varies
- Insurance may cover some or all of these costs. You should check with your insurance for coverage details to find out your actual out of pocket cost.
- Blood glucose will rapidly (< 4 hrs) increase if the pump stops delivering insulin (blockage or mechanical failure).
- You may not want others to know you have diabetes and the pump can prompt undesired attention and questions. The pump can also be a visual reminder of your diabetes. Some pumps can be detached from your body for water sports and sexual intimacy but the infusion set remains.
Contact or extreme sports
- Athletic individuals may find pump therapy more of a challenge than injections, due to perspiration or physical dislodgment of the infusion set or, direct damage to pump from high impact.
Education, training, record keeping
- Pump therapy requires education, skills training, intensive follow-up and management and motivation to keep detailed records of glucose levels, carbohydrate, insulin doses and exercise. Detailed records will be needed while transitioning to the pump and periodically after.
Frequent blood glucose monitoring
- You will need to monitor and pay close attention to your blood glucose values during the initial transition phase as to evaluate pump settings.
Possible weight gain
- With precise, easy insulin dosing and less restriction for snacks/meals, you may find yourself eating more. Improved control may also mean that your body is now using & storing the energy you eat better.
Skin irritation and infusion site infections
- Some individuals can develop skin irritation or rashes at the site of the infusion set. There can be a small red dot persisting for some time after the set is removed. Infections can develop from poor hygiene or infrequent changing of the sets.
Palo Alto Medical Foundation: Pre Pump Education Packet