Skip to content

    Diabetes Health Center

    Font Size

    Types of Insulin Delivery Systems

    Insulin Pens

    These work much like a syringe, but they look like a pen you use to write. They come in disposable and reusable versions.

    Disposable pens come pre-filled with insulin. Reusable models use a cartridge filled with insulin.


    Ease and convenience. To use, you just dial up the insulin dose on the pen. Then you press a plunger at one end to inject the insulin through a needle at the other end.

    Memory storage. The memory feature will remind you how much insulin you took and when you took it.


    Expense. Insulin pens cost slightly more than syringes (about $30 - $40 a pen). Many insurance companies won't cover the cost.

    Lack of options. Some types of insulin aren't available in pen form.

    Insulin Pump

    This device is about the size of a pager. You wear it on your belt or in a pocket. It delivers a steady stream of insulin to your body 24 hours a day through a needle attached to a flexible plastic tube. Whenever you eat, you press a button on the pump to give yourself an extra boost of insulin, called a bolus.

    The pump is an option for people with type 1 diabetes who haven't reached their target blood sugar level using other delivery methods. Also, one large study concluded that the insulin pump is a safe and valuable treatment option for those with poorly controlled blood sugar, despite multiple daily insulin injections. It's also a good option for people with diabetes who have very active lifestyles.


    Steady insulin release. "The pump's advantages are linked to its very nature, which is to try to mimic the way the body makes insulin -- a small amount all the time and a boost at mealtimes," Fonseca says.

    Pumps are so efficient that you can use less insulin than you would with a syringe or pen.

    Easy to use. When you use a pump, you won't have to give yourself injections throughout the day. The pump delivers insulin to you automatically. You can also eat whenever you choose.

    Today on WebMD

    Diabetic tools
    Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more.
    woman flexing muscles
    10 strength training exercises.
    Blood sugar test
    12 practical tips.
    Tom Hanks
    Stars living with type 1 or type 2.
    kenneth fujioka, md
    Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
    Middle aged person
    jennie brand miller

    Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
    type 2 diabetes
    food fitness planner