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What Are Insulin Pumps?

Insulin pumps are small, computerized devices that some people with diabetes use to help manage their blood sugar. They wear their pump on their belt or put it in their pocket. 

The pump releases rapid-acting insulin into your body through a small, flexible tube (called a catheter) which goes under your belly's skin and is taped in place.

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How It Works

The insulin pump works nonstop, according to a programmed plan unique to each pump wearer. You can change the amount of insulin delivered.

Between meals and overnights, the pump constantly delivers a small amount of insulin to keep your blood sugar in the target range. This is called the "basal rate." When you eat food, you can program extra insulin -- a "bolus dose" -- into the pump. You can calculate how much of a bolus you need based on the grams of carbohydrates you eat or drink.

When you use an insulin pump, you must check your blood sugar level at least four times a day. You set the doses of your insulin and make adjustments to the dose depending on your food and exercise.

Why Use an Insulin Pump for Diabetes?

Some doctors prefer the insulin pump because it releases insulin slowly, like how a normal pancreas works. Another advantage of the insulin pump is that you don't have to measure insulin into a syringe.

Research is mixed on whether the pump provides better blood sugar control than more than one daily injection.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Michael Dansinger, MD on January 27, 2015

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If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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