How To Insulin Pumps Work

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Insulin Pump For Diabetes

How does an insulin pump work? The typical insulin pump is attached to a thin plastic tube (an infusion set) that has a soft cannula (or plastic needle) at the end through which insulin passes. This cannula is inserted under the skin, usually on the abdomen. The cannula is changed every two days. The tubing can be disconnected from the pump while showering or swimming. The pump is used for continuous insulin delivery, 24 hours a day. The amount of insulin is programmed and is administered at a constant rate (basal rate). Often, the amount of insulin needed over the course of 24 hours varies depending on factors like exercise, activity level, and sleep. The insulin pump allows the user to program many different basal rates to allow for variation in lifestyle. In addition, the user can program the pump to deliver a bolus (large dose of insulin) during meals to cover the excess demands of carbohydrate ingestion. How common is an insulin pump? Hundreds of thousands of people with diabetes worldwide are using an insulin pump. Although insulin pumps were first used by people with type 1 diabetes, people with type 2 diabetes sometime use them as well. Many children successfully use insuli 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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