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Is an insulin pump right for you?

Reviewed 3/22/2021

Insulin pump

Is it right for you?

An insulin pump is a wearable device that delivers insulin through a plastic tube (catheter) that's inserted through your skin and taped into place. This tool is designed to help you decide whether you might want to consider using an insulin pump.

Do you have type 1 diabetes?

If you answered "yes." Then an insulin pump may be for you. Studies have found that insulin pumps allow people with type 1 diabetes to maintain better control of their insulin levels than those who self-monitor. They are especially recommended for people who experience frequent low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).

If you answered "no." Insulin pumps are most often used to help manage type 1 diabetes. However, if you have type 2 diabetes, you might consider using an insulin pump if you haven't been able to control your blood glucose levels despite self-monitoring, using other medications and making lifestyle changes.

Do you have a high A1C?

If you answered "yes." Then you may be a good candidate for an insulin pump.

If you answered "no." A high A1C is one sign you may benefit from an insulin pump. If your A1C is fine, it may not be needed.

Do your blood glucose levels go up and down frequently? Is it hard to keep track of?

If you answered "yes." An insulin pump can help with these fluctuations. It also delivers insulin on its own for better control throughout the day.

If you answered "no." An insulin pump can help with these fluctuations. But if you're aware of your glucose and keeping it well controlled on your own, a pump may not be needed.

Do you know how an insulin pump works?

If you answered "yes." Just to be sure—insulin pumps can be programmed to release insulin in one of two ways: as a measured, continuous dose or as a surge of insulin that you control taken around mealtime. This method of delivering insulin at mealtime is similar to the body's normal release of insulin. Plus, using an insulin pump frees you from having to regularly inject yourself.

If you answered "no." Insulin pumps can be programmed to release insulin in one of two ways: as a measured, continuous dose or as a surge of insulin that you control taken around mealtime. This method of delivering insulin at mealtime is similar to the body's normal release of insulin. Using an insulin pump frees you from regular insulin injections.

Do you know the advantages of using an insulin pump?

If you answered "yes." OK. But just to review, some of the advantages of using a pump instead of injections include:

  • You no longer have to regularly inject yourself.
  • Pumps deliver insulin doses more accurately than injections.
  • Using an insulin pump often improves your A1C.
  • Insulin pumps give you more flexibility with your meals.
  • Using an insulin pump reduces hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) episodes.
  • Insulin pumps eliminate the need to eat large amounts of carbohydrates before exercising.

If you answered "no." Some of the advantages of using a pump instead of injections include:

  • You no longer have to regularly inject yourself.
  • Pumps deliver insulin doses more accurately than injections.
  • Using an insulin pump often improves your A1C.
  • Insulin pumps give you more flexibility with your meals.
  • Using an insulin pump reduces hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) episodes.
  • Insulin pumps eliminate the need to eat large amounts of carbohydrates before exercising.

Do you know the disadvantages of using an insulin pump?

If you answered "yes." When making a choice, it's always good to be aware of both the pluses and the minuses. And there are some disadvantages to using an insulin pump. You should know that:

  • Pumps can sometimes be complicated to use.
  • They can cost a lot of money.
  • They are attached to your body, so wearing them can take some getting used to.
  • You'll still need to check your blood sugar with a finger stick now and then.
  • You'll still need to be ready to give yourself an injection if your pump breaks or fails.

If you answered "no." When making a choice, it's always good to be aware of both the pluses and the minuses. And there are some disadvantages to using an insulin pump. You should know that:

  • Pumps can sometimes be complicated to use.
  • They can cost a lot of money.
  • They are attached to your body, so wearing them can take some getting used to.
  • You'll still need to check your blood sugar with a finger stick now and then.
  • You'll still need to be ready to give yourself an injection if your pump breaks or fails.

Results

Talk with your doctor about your results, and be sure to ask any questions that came up in this assessment. Together, you can decide what the right next step is for you.

Sources: Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists; American Diabetes Association; Endocrine Society; Medtronic

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