Insulin Pumps Can Help Diabetics Keep Blood Sugar Levels in Range

An insulin pump can help those with diabetes better manage their blood sugar levels. The pump allows those with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes to match their insulin dosages with their lifestyle, which can help to decrease the likelihood of long-term complications that can occur with diabetes.

A Type 1 diabetic’s body no longer produces insulin, while a Type 2 diabetic’s body no longer responds properly to the insulin that is being produced. Insulin helps the body to use the sugars that are consumed as energy. Without insulin, the excess sugar remains in the blood and can cause blindness, kidney disease and heart disease.

How an Insulin Pump Works

An insulin pump delivers short-acting insulin 24 hours a day through a small catheter that is inserted under the skin. The different types of insulin doses are divided into three different groups:

  • Basal rates, which are delivered continuously for 24 hours
  • Bolus doses, which cover extra carbohydrates that are consumed during meals
  • Correctional doses, which help to correct blood sugar levels that have risen too high

The pump can be programmed to deliver more basal insulin during the day when food is being consumed and less at night while sleeping. If a meal is eaten that has more carbohydrates than planned for, the pump can deliver a bolus dose to cover the excess carbohydrates that may raise blood sugar levels. When checking blood sugar levels before or after a meal, a correctional dose can be delivered through the pump if levels are too high.

Blood sugar levels should be checked at least four times a day. Though the insulin pump is designed to keep levels within range at all times, stress, illness and excess carbohydrates can all raise blood glucose levels. Adjusting the pump or delivering a correctional dose is then necessary.

How an Insulin Pump is Placed

An insulin pump is compact, approximately the size of a small cell phone or pager. It can be worn with a belt around the waist, with a band around the arm or leg, tucked into a bra, in a pocket or in a sock. The pump is connected to the body with a small tube that delivers the insulin through a catheter.

Most pumps are water-resistant but can be disconnected for showers, baths or swimming activities. Users must be aware that once the pump is disconnected, insulin is no longer being delivered to the body.

The pancreas is normally the best mechanism for regulating insulin and blood sugar levels in the body. An insulin pump that delivers constant insulin is the next best thing when the pancreas no longer works or the body no longer responds to the insulin that it is producing.