What You Need To Know About This Innovative Alternative To Injections
Tucked behind your stomach is a gland called the pancreas. The pancreas is important because it produces a hormone called insulin, which helps balance your blood glucose (also called blood sugar) levels.
If your pancreas produces little or no insulin, it causes a chronic condition called type 1 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes happens when your body either doesn’t produce enough insulin or is resistant to it.
If not properly treated, diabetes can lead to serious health conditions, including eye, cardiovascular, nerve and kidney problems.
To manage their blood sugar, over 7 million Americans treat their diabetes with insulin. Of those, 350,000 to 515,000 use an insulin pump.
What Is an Insulin Pump?
Insulin pumps have been around for more than 30 years. Before that, most people administered insulin with a needle and syringe or insulin pen.
An insulin pump is a small, wearable, computerized device that can be programmed to deliver insulin in two ways:
- A continuous, measured dose (called a “basal” dose)
- Larger doses around mealtimes (called a “bolus” dose)
An insulin pump system consists of:
- A cannula: a thin plastic tube inserted under the skin
- A cartridge of insulin called a reservoir
- Flexible plastic tubing connecting the cannula to the reservoir
- The pump itself, which allows you to program the amount and time of the insulin delivered
The pump delivers doses through the cannula under the skin in areas like your belly, buttock, or thigh.
What Are the Advantages of Using an Insulin Pump?
Insulin pumps deliver insulin almost in the same way your pancreas does to help you better control your blood glucose levels.
There are many reasons why people prefer insulin pumps over a syringe, pen, or other methods of administration. Insulin pumps:
- Eliminate the need for multiple insulin injections every day
- Ensure greater accuracy than injections to help improve control of your blood sugar levels
- Allow you to adjust insulin delivery based on your diet, giving you more flexibility about what and when you eat
- Let you adjust insulin delivery based on your level of exercise
- Improve A1c levels, a simple measure of your average blood sugar levels
- Allow you to increase your time within range for glucose targets
Insulin pumps are also a good option for anyone who has trouble remembering to take their insulin injections. Plus, insulin pumps aren’t permanent. You can always return to injections if you don’t like using a pump.
That said, insulin pumps are a commitment. Your doctor will show you how to use yours properly. And as with syringes, pens, and other methods of taking insulin, you’ll still need to check your blood glucose regularly.
Is an Insulin Pump Right for You?An insulin pump may be an excellent choice for you, especially if you:
- Want to spend less time managing your diabetes
- Enjoy an active lifestyle
- Experience frequent high or low blood sugars
- Have diabetes and are planning a pregnancy
- Find it difficult to stick to a schedule for insulin injections
- Have an A1c greater than 7%
- Have gastroparesis, a condition where you have difficulty digesting food
- Want the unique convenience of a pump
Interested in an Insulin Pump?
Apria is now part of the Owens & Minor family, which includes Byram Healthcare. Complementing the services Apria provides, Byram’s team of experts offers clinical and educational resources paired with top-of-the-line customer service to give patients living with diabetes a full range of support. Contact Byram to see if an insulin pump is right for you!