Insulin Pumps and Continuous Glucose Monitors
Insulin Pump Therapy
An insulin pump is a small device with the ability to deliver insulin continuously (basal) or quickly (bolus) for carbohydrate intake. You can also correct a high blood glucose level by typing into the pump your blood glucose or grams of carbohydrate to be eaten. There's a variety of insulin pumps on the market, offering options to meet individual needs.
How they work
Information in the insulin pump is programmed to meet the needs of the individual wearing it. Insulin is infused into fatty tissue through a small plastic tube (cannula) that's attached to a reservoir in the pump. The cannula is inserted under the skin by a needle, which is then removed. This is called an infusion set. It's changed every 2 to 3 days to prevent infection. Using an insulin pump eliminates the need for multiple daily injections of insulin. Only rapid acting insulin is used in a pump. Since the pump continuously delivers insulin there is no need for long acting insulin.
Benefits of using an insulin pump
Studies have shown that using an insulin pump can improve diabetes control and lessen the risk of hypoglycemia. In addition, many people find increased flexibility in the timing of meals and exercise when wearing an insulin pump.
Is it right for you?
Candidates for insulin pump therapy are people who take multiple daily injections of insulin, check their blood glucose levels several times a day, are motivated to use the pump, and have good problem solving skills. Open communication between the individual wearing the pump and their health care team is essential.
Checking blood glucose with a meter only provides information about the blood sugar level at that specific point in time. It does not identify trends or tell you whether the blood glucose is rising or dropping. Continuous Glucose Monitors measure the glucose level in the tissue, but not the actual blood. A CGM requires a small sensor which is inserted under the skin into the fatty tissue. A sensor is connected to a transmitter that sends information to a receiver or smartphone. The user can see what their glucose level has been, what it is at that moment, and which way it is trending. Trends in blood sugar levels allow an individual to anticipate and prevent hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia. Some CGM sensors even alert the wearer (and/or family members) when the glucose goes too high or too low. The FDA has approved some sensors to replace daily blood glucose checks.