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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 insulin 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. 

It’s important to begin with realistic expectations about what an insulin pump can and cannot do. A pump can improve blood glucose control, but you must continue to check glucose levels using a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) or glucose meter. 

While the insulin pump continuously delivers insulin, it’s not a cure for diabetes. The goal is to better manage your blood glucose levels while avoiding wide fluctuations and to prevent severe hypoglycemia (low blood glucose). 

Insulin Pump Overview Video

Insulin Pump Video

How insulin pumps 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, called a cannula, that's attached to a reservoir in the pump. The cannula is inserted under the skin by a needle, which is referred to as an infusion set. It's changed every two to three days to prevent infection. Only rapid acting insulin is used in a pump. Since the pump continuously delivers insulin, there's no need for long acting insulin.

Benefits of using an insulin pump

Studies have shown that an insulin pump can improve diabetes control and lessen the risk of hypoglycemia. Many people find increased flexibility in the timing of meals and exercise when wearing an insulin pump. 

Sharing insulin pump data with your care team between office visits helps to make the most of the time you spend with them during your appointments.  Uploading your pump reports allows the care team to track patterns and make adjustments to your care plan if needed. 

Is an insulin pump right for you? 

Candidates for insulin pump therapy receive multiple daily insulin injections, check blood glucose levels several times each day, are motivated to use the pump, and have good problem solving skills. Open communication between the person wearing a pump and their diabetes care team is essential.

Insulin Pumps Comparison Sheet

Guidelines for Insulin Pump Problem Solving

Troubleshooting High Blood Glucose

Insulin Pump Hospitalization Guidelines

Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGM)

Checking blood glucose with a meter only provides information about the blood sugar level at that specific point in time.  It doesn't identify patterns or let you know whether blood glucose is rising or dropping.  A CGM requires a small sensor which is inserted under the skin into fatty tissue.  The sensor is connected to a transmitter that sends information to a receiver or smartphone.  The user can view what their glucose level has been, what it is at that moment, and which way it's heading. Trends in blood sugar levels allow an individual to anticipate and prevent hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia.  Some CGM sensors even alert the user (and/or family members) when glucose goes too high or too low. The FDA has approved some sensors to replace daily blood glucose checks.

CGM Comparison Guide

The Latest Blood Glucose Management Tools and Products

Click here to learn about the newest insulin pumps, infusion devices, continuous glucose monitors and smartphone apps available to help people manage diabetes.