An insulin pump is a tiny computer that delivers insulin into your body. With a pump, you don't have to give yourself insulin shots throughout the day. You program the pump to do this. You can also give yourself an extra dose of insulin when you need it.
A pump may give you more freedom to eat, sleep, and exercise when you want.
The pump sends insulin through a narrow plastic tube (a catheter) that ends in a tiny needle. The needle goes into your skin. The tube and needle are called an infusion set. With most infusion sets, the needle pulls out, leaving a tiny flexible tube called a cannula under your skin. You can't even feel that it's there.
Some pumps attach directly to the body and do not need tubing. With this type, a remote device controls the pump. And some pumps are disposable. A pump with no tubing is sometimes called a "pump patch."
An insulin pump gives you a constant trickle of insulin throughout the day and night. This is called your basal amount. You set this up to keep your blood sugar in your target range throughout the day.
You can use the pump to give yourself extra insulin when you eat a meal or a snack. You can give yourself less insulin when you are very active or exercising. You also can give yourself more insulin any time you feel you need more than your basal amount of insulin.
An insulin pump can help you control your blood sugar.
Some people say choosing which pump to use is harder than deciding to switch to a pump. There are a number of insulin pump companies, and each pump is slightly different.
Ask members of your diabetes team which pumps they recommend.
Find out which pump brands are covered by your health plan. Then ask those companies to send you information or check their websites.
You should be able to try out a pump with saline solution. That way you can see how it works and feels.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
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Current as of: March 13, 2017
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& Rhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator & David C.W. Lau, MD, PhD, FRCPC - Endocrinology
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