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Insulin Pump Therapy

Section 2: What is an Insulin Pump?


In this section, you will learn:

  • Ho​​w an insulin pump works
  • What an insulin pump won't do
  • What an insulin looks like ​​​

How an insulin pump works

An insulin pump is a small battery-powered device that:

  • only uses rapid-acting insulin
  • is attached to the body 24 hours a day 7 days a week, with few exceptions
  • stores a limited supply of insulin in a reservoir
  • delivers insulin through a small flexible tube (cannula) that’s inserted under the skin
  • delivers “background” or basal insulin 24 hours a day at a rate(s) programmed by the user
  • delivers meal or correction bolus insulin on demand when the user pushes buttons
  • replaces multiple daily injection (MDI) therapy

This means that the user has to:

  • fill the reservoir with insulin every 2 to 3 days or as needed
  • change the cannula every 2 to 3 days or sooner
  • check blood sugars and input the numbers into the insulin pump
  • count carbohydrate and input into the insulin pump
  • make decisions about meal insulin and correction insulin doses
  • press buttons to deliver meal insulin and correction insulin
  • make decisions about when to inject insulin with syringe/pen to prevent diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA)
  • adjust basal rates as needed using frequent glucose testing. Program new rates into the insulin pump and occasionally program temporary basal rates.
  • attend to pump alarms and review pump functions when problem-solving unexplained high or low blood sugars​​​​​