An insulin pump provides an alternative to multiple daily injections of insulin using a syringe.
Many people with type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes who need to inject insulin find that an insulin pump delivers more precise insulin doses which can make it easier to control blood glucose (BG) levels.
An insulin pump is a small device about the size of a pager. The pump contains a reservoir that holds between 176 and 315 units of insulin. The reservoir size you need is determined by the amount of insulin you need to use.
Small children may do well with the smallest reservoir while active adults will probably need the larger size.
Insulin travels from the pump through a cannula or needle which is placed just under your skin. Some insulin pumps use an infusion set which includes a length of tubing that connects the pump with the cannula.
These units can be worn clipped to a belt, bra, or waistband, or may be tucked into a pocket. Other pumps use adhesive to attach directly to the skin without tubing.
Insulin pumps include a control unit that allows the user to program insulin doses. Some models also have a handheld remote to help with programming.
An insulin pump provides a steady dose of rapid-acting insulin throughout the day which is known as the basal rate. This steady delivery helps maintain more stable blood glucose levels throughout the day.
At mealtime, an additional bolus dose is administered on demand based on the foods that will be eaten.
Some pumps allow users to program their favorite foods to help calculate how much insulin is needed in the bolus for each meal. All pumps include a lock feature to prevent accidental changes to programming.
Although being attached to a pump may sound cumbersome, many people find they have more freedom to be active thanks to the steady dose of insulin provided by the pump.
Insulin pumps are water-resistant, but they should not be placed directly in water. Some sports coaches also prefer that the pump be removed during games to prevent it from accidentally getting tangled or pulling lose.