An insulin pump is a device that delivers insulin continuously throughout the day. Its main advantage is that it helps regulate your blood glucose levels – this means you’ll have fewer highs and lows. Is insulin pump therapy right for you?
Of course, it is important to discuss insulin pump therapy with your diabetes healthcare team but here are some things to consider as you explore this option for insulin therapy.
Lots of people are good candidates for insulin pumps:
- Pump therapy is often recommended for people with diabetes whose blood glucose levels aren’t well controlled.
- People who are injecting insulin four or five times a day may want to consider the convenience of a pump.
- People who are willing to do their blood check at least four times a day can benefit from the convenience of making timely changes to regulate blood glucose levels.
- Adults with irregular schedules might also benefit from a pump: it can be programmed to provide insulin on a schedule that matches your body’s usual needs.
The most important thing that pump users must know is that it’s an ongoing responsibility. You need to be prepared to do your blood checks regularly and enter your food (carbohydrate) amounts into the pump to calculate your insulin dose. Unlike with insulin injections, you have to make sure that the insulin delivery rate is set correctly, change the infusion tubing regularly to prevent blockages and have enough insulin in the storage chamber to cover your insulin needs.
Here are some tips for people who are considering insulin pump therapy:
- Get the proper training. It takes time to learn how to manage your diabetes using insulin pump therapy! Many diabetes clinics offer pump education and training. Attending an educational session will ensure that you learn all you need to know about the pump and its related components. You’ll also be able to ask any questions you have about pump therapy, and have them answered by an expert. You will also get ongoing support and education during the learning process.
- Read the manual. Follow all instructions and use your pump exactly as directed.
- Visit your healthcare team regularly, to ensure that you are using your insulin pump therapy the right way and that it works for you. You may need to adjust your insulin doses and the pump’s program; your healthcare team can help you do this.
- Always take your insulin at a specific time – for example, five minutes before you eat – so that you won’t forget to take your bolus doses.
- Make a habit of recording blood glucose checks, carbohydrate amounts, carbohydrate doses, correction doses and physical activity (for example, how long you exercised and what exercise you were doing). It really helps to look back over your blood glucose record at the end of every week (or even every day, if it’s convenient) to see if you have any problem areas. Reviewing your records is the key to improving blood glucose control.
- Have a system in place. There are choices that the pump allows you to make, for example, disconnecting it while showering or swimming and reminding you to turn it back on. Listen to the alarms on the pump or set a reminder on your cellphone.
- Work with your healthcare team to develop a back-up plan in case of problems with your insulin pump. This means having insulin, and an insulin pen or syringes, on hand to use if needed.
Discuss insulin pump therapy with your healthcare team, and continue to educate yourself about how the pump works and what is involved in maintaining optimal pump therapy.
This article was sponsored by an unrestricted educational grant from Animas Canada.