Insulin pumps are small, computerized devices (about the size of a small cell phone) that allow for a continuous flow of a rapid-acting insulin to be released into your body. The pumps have a small, flexible tube (called a catheter) with a fine needle on the end, which is inserted under the skin of your abdomen and taped in place. The devices can be worn on a belt or placed in a pocket.
The insulin pump is designed to deliver a continuous amount of insulin, 24 hours a day according to a programmed plan unique to each pump wearer. The user can change the amount of insulin delivered.
Between meals and overnights, a small amount of insulin is constantly delivered to keep the blood sugar in the target range. This is called the basal rate. When food is eaten, a bolus dose of insulin can be programmed into the pump. You can measure how much of a bolus you need using calculations based on the grams of carbohydrates consumed.
When using an insulin pump, you must monitor your blood glucose level at least four times a day. You set the doses of your insulin and make adjustments to the dose depending on your food intake and exercise program.
Why Use an Insulin Pump for Diabetes?
Some health care providers prefer the insulin pump for diabetes because its slow release of insulin mimics how a normally working pancreas would release insulin. One large study concluded the insulin pump is a safe and valuable treatment option for those with poorly controlled blood sugar.
Another advantage of the insulin pump is that it frees you from having to measure insulin into a syringe.