More and more people with diabetes are using insulin pumps instead of daily shots to manage their disease. The pumps give them more freedom to eat, sleep, and exercise when they want. Pumps usually help people do a better job of controlling their blood sugar. But using an insulin pump takes some getting used to. The more you learn about your pump and how to live with it, the happier you will be.
An insulin pump is a tiny computer that is connected to your body 24 hours a day to give you the insulin you need. It takes the place of daily insulin shots. Pumps use rapid-acting insulin. This kind of insulin works very quickly when it’s given. It also stops working very quickly when it is stopped. The pump gives you a constant trickle, or basal amount, of insulin throughout the day and night to help control your blood sugar. The basal amount is set to keep your blood sugar in the desired range when you are not eating. You tell the pump to give you extra insulin when you need it to cover a meal or to correct high blood sugar.
Insulin Pump vs. Insulin Shots
- With daily shots, you have to plan your life around your insulin needs. An insulin pump can free you from a strict regimen of meals, sleep, and exercise because you can program it to match your changing schedule.
- Instead of giving yourself shots several times a day, you only need to insert your pump’s needle once every 2 or 3 days.
- With a pump, you don’t have to stop what you’re doing and pull out a syringe or an insulin pen to give yourself insulin. You just push a button to give yourself the right dose.
- A pump may help you keep your blood sugar closer to normal. People who use a pump have fewer big swings in their blood sugar levels.
- People who use a pump may have fewer problems with very low blood sugar. This is especially true overnight, when people go the longest time without eating.
If you’re interested in trying a pump, ask members of your diabetes team, including your primary care physician, which pumps they recommend. If you have insurance, find out which pump brands are covered. Then ask those companies to send you information. Insulin pump companies also have websites where you can get all kinds of information. Your diabetes educator likely will have a variety of pumps that you can look at.
Using a pump can take a lot of time and effort, but many people who try it think an insulin pump can make life with diabetes better and give you more control over your diabetes.
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