How good is an insulin pump?


I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in January this year. I am using multi-injections which I do myself, but on average I inject about six times a day. I have been wondering about how good the pump is. Would anyone have any advice?


Libby says

An insulin pump is a little device, about the size of a small mobile phone, which holds the insulin. It gets into your body along a fine plastic tube and through a tiny plastic cannula (a very thin, flexible tube) which sits under your skin, usually in your tummy.

The pump gives you a small amount of insulin all the time, then when you eat you give yourself extra by pressing some of the buttons on the pump. You have to work out how much insulin you need depending on what you have eaten. You can also give yourself a bit of extra insulin if your blood glucose levels are high.

Pumps are quite technical but if you like technical 'gadget' type things then they can be a great way of managing your diabetes really well. It really is about personal choice - some people aren't keen on the idea of having something 'attached' to them, while other people are not bothered by this at all.

Some of the newer models are really tiny and don't even have cannula tubes. There are lots of advantages to using a pump...

  • Fewer injections – the cannula (tube) is only replaced two to three times a week.
  • Your lifestyle can be more flexible – you don't have to plan so carefully or eat at set times.
  • You may be able to reduce your total dose of insulin as your diabetes control improves.
  • It's easy to use – once the pump is set up, you can give yourself a bolus dose at the push of a button. ... but there are some disadvantages to pump use too.
  • You need to test your blood glucose levels more often – because the insulin is rapid acting, so it's important you always know what your insulin needs are.
  • You may forget your bolus doses – this is usually just a problem while you get used to everything. 
  • Infection may develop at the insertion site where the tube enters your skin.

You may get scarring at the insertion site, which will mean changing the infusion set (the equipment) more often. Your parents can read more information about what is involved in using an insulin pump. Perhaps one of the best ways of finding out more about it is to speak to other people who use them.

Your diabetes nurse can put you in touch with other children your age and maybe your mum or dad can talk to their parents. Another thing you can do with your parents is to ask other people on online communities such as Facebook or places such as the Diabetes UK Support Forum where people are really friendly and will be happy to tell you about their experiences and opinions.

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