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How To Insulin Pumps Work

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What You Should Know About Insulin Pumps

Insulin pump therapy has come a long way since the first backpack-size pump became available in 1974. Today's pumps are much smaller -- more like a cell phone or pager -- and easier to use. Check out whether this generation of "smart pumps" will give you the flexibility you are looking for. How the Pumps Work These battery-operated devices are designed to mimic a properly functioning pancreas -- secreting insulin whether or not you're eating. Pumps use rapid-acting insulin and deliver constant amounts of insulin every few minutes -- the basal dose. This insulin covers the rise of blood glucose between meals. To compensate for mealtime blood glucose rise, you require a larger burst of insulin -- bolus doses. You'll make decisions before you eat about how much bolus insulin to program in and whether you want it all immediately or over the next few hours. Most pumps will help you make the dose determination based on your meal and your current blood glucose. Correction dosing, a form of bolus dosing, can also bring down high blood glucose levels and reverse correction dosing, used when taking mealtime boluses, can help compensate for low blood glucose. {C} Choosing a Pump Whether you d 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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