How Do Insulin Pumps Work

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Diabetes: Living With An Insulin Pump

Introduction More and more people with diabetes are using insulin pumps instead of daily shots to manage their disease. The pumps give them more freedom to eat, sleep, and exercise when they want. A pump can be an important tool in preventing problems like very low blood sugar. But using an insulin pump takes some getting used to. The more you learn about your pump and how to live with it, the happier you will be. How to live with an insulin pump Choosing a pump Some people say choosing which pump to use is actually harder than deciding to switch to a pump in the first place. There are a number of insulin pump companies, and each pump is slightly different. Ask members of your diabetes team which pumps they recommend. If you have insurance, find out which pump brands are covered. Then ask those companies to send you information. Insulin pump companies also have websites where you can get all kinds of information. Your diabetes educator likely will have a variety of pumps that you can look at. Because improvements in insulin pumps are happening so fast, your local hospital may have open houses a few times a year so that pump makers can show their products and tell you how they work. Continue reading >>

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  1. Jill

    How does an insulin pump work?

    This is my own explanation, in layman's terms how a pump basically works. Feel free to add to my explanation.
    My pump is filled with Apidra which is a newer rapid acting insulin like Novolog, Humalog or Novorapid. It is programmed (by me) to cover my basal needs (like what Lantus and Levemir do) but I can program it to give me different basal amounts at different times of the day. So, here is how it works, I have a very small tube (a cannula) in my tummy that is connected to a tube and then to my pump. My basal rate from 12:00 am to 2:59 am is .8 units per hour. That means that every hour from midnight until 2:59 am my pump slowly eeks out .8 units of insulin to keep my sugar level. at 3:00 am my basal rate changes to .85 unit per hour b/c my sugar tends to rise starting at this time. So from 3:00 am until 10:00 am I slowly get .85 units of insulin each hour. Then at 10:00 I have another rate set...you get it.
    Ok, so for meals, I carb count and bolus my insulin myself. So, say I'm eating a turkey sandwich and some chips. My doctor and I have worked out an insulin to carbohydrate ratio for me. My ratio is for every 10 grams of carbohydrate I eat I take 1 unit of insulin. So my turkey sandwich has 10 grams of carbs (I got this awesome new low carb bread) and I'm eating 25 grams of carbs worth of chips (you just read the labels on serving size and how many grams of carbs). My total carb for the meal would be 35 grams of carbs. That means I would need 3.5 units of insulin to cover my meal. I just dial up 3.5 units on my pump, push ACT and it delivers it to me. It also has a feature where, I test my sugar, I have my goal programmed into my pump (my goal is 90 mg/dl, that's 5 uk) if my sugar is higher than my goal then I also have my correction factors figured into my pump and the pump will tell me how much insulin I need to take to bring my sugar back to my goal and then I can put in the carbs I'm eating and it will tell me how much to take for the meal PLUS the correction factor. I change the cannula and fill my insulin reservoir every 3 to 4 days. I would like to end by saying pumping is the best decision I ever made.

  2. Lois

    I think you have said it all, but would note that everyone is different and it will take time to adjust basal/bolus amounts.
    Having been on the pump for almost 4 years, I would say that this is the best control that I have had. No problems with changing infusion sets or keeping up with the changes in my basal/bolus rates. As Jill said, this is the best decision I have ever made.

  3. tralea

    You said it pretty good Jill!!

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