Everyone with Type 1 and some people with Type 2 take insulin. The most common way for you to take insulin is with an insulin pen. But now there are more ways, thanks to changes in tech. Your diabetes technology can now include insulin pumps and smart insulin pens.
If you’re thinking about using an insulin pump to treat your Type 1 diabetes, you need to have loads of information and the criteria that will need to help you find out if it’s right for you.
What is an insulin pump?1
An insulin pump is a small electronic device that gives your body the regular insulin it needs throughout the day and night.
There are two types of insulin pump:
- Tethered pumps
A tethered pump is attached to your body by another small tube that connects to your cannula. The pump itself usually has all the controls on it and can be carried on your belt, in a pocket, or in a body band. You can wear it under your clothes if you don’t want it to be on show. Tethered pumps can be different in things like color, screen size and some have extra features like Bluetooth remotes.
- Patch pumps
You attach patch pumps directly on to your body where you’ve chosen to place your cannula. People tend put them on their legs, arms or stomachs. Patch pumps have no extra tubing, which means the pump sits directly on your skin and it works by using a remote.Unlike a tethered pump, patch pumps are disposable. You’ll need to change the whole device when the pump alerts you, not just the infusion set and location.
Insulin pump therapy offers multiple clinical benefits over multiple daily injection therapy such as2,3
- better HbA1c control
- fewer hypoglycemic events
- reduction in glycemic variability
The pump therapy as a system: how does the insulin get into your body?
The insulin pump (1) has a compartment that holds a reservoir (2) that is filled with insulin. From the pump’s reservoir insulin is infused into your body through an infusion set (3). The infusion set is inserted to your body by the infusion set insertion device (4) and is infusing through a tiny flexible tube called cannula that sits just underneath your skin
IS INSULIN PUMP RIGHT FOR YOU?
Many people with Type 1 diabetes may benefit from an insulin pump without even knowing it. In general, if they experience any of the following, they could get better control with an insulin pump:
- Fear of needles
- Difficulty in managing highs and lows
- Fear of hypoglycaemia, especially at night
- HbA1c outside target range
- Reduced hypoglycaemia awareness
- Concerns about long-term complications
- Seeking more flexibility in everyday life
Talk to your physician about insulin pump therapy and whether it may be right for you.
1 Insulin pumps [Internet]. Diabetes UK. 2020 [cited 13 December 2020]. Available from: https://www.diabetes.org.uk/guide-to-diabetes/managing-your-diabetes/treating-your-diabetes/insulin-pumps
2 Pickup JC, Sutton AJ. Diabetic medicine: a journal of the British Diabetic Association. Diabet Med. 2008;25(7):765-74.
3 Bergenstal RM, Tamborlane WV, Ahmann A, Buse JB, Dailey G, Davis SN, Joyce C, Perkins BA, Welsh JB, Willi SM, Wood MA. Sensor-augmented pump therapy for A1C reduction (STAR 3) study: results from the 6-month continuation phase. Diabetes care. 2011 Nov 1;34(11):2403-5.