The constant worriedness that lies above the head of measuring your blood glucose is a burden that often overshadows daily life, creating a persistent sense of anxiety and disrupting the ability to fully live in the present moment. Optimizing diabetes control is a crucial goal for people living with this chronic condition. To help achieve this goal an individual can either explore traditional approaches such as taking medications or participate in clinical trials that are aimed at investigating novel therapies like Insulin Pumps.
In this blog, we will explain what an insulin pump is, how it works, and what are the benefits and challenges of using one.
All About Diabetes
Diabetes is a chronic condition that occurs when your body is unable to maintain blood glucose levels of the body. This happens due to the inability of pancreas to produce insulin or the body not being able to effectively use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that regulates the glucose levels in the body. Without proper control of diabetes, glucose builds up in the blood, leading to high blood sugar levels and various health complications.
Common Symptoms of Diabetes
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Slow healing of wounds
- Nerve damage
- Kidney failure
- Blurred Vision
Managing diabetes is a challenging condition. It involves maintaining blood glucose levels within a target range through a combination of medication, diet, physical activity, and regular monitoring. In some cases, these strategies may be insufficient, indicating the need for insulin therapy to better control blood glucose levels.
Insulin therapy is a medical treatment given to people to help manage their condition. It involves administration of insulin using injections. However, for those who require frequent doses of insulin throughout the day the best option is to use insulin pumps as it effectively helps in optimizing diabetes control.
Introduction to Insulin Pumps
An insulin pump is a small battery-operated device that administers small, frequent doses of short-acting insulin continuously throughout the day. It consists of:
- a reservoir that holds insulin,
- a tubing system that connects the reservoir to a thin needle inserted under the skin,
- a controller that allows the user to program the pump and get the required amount of insulin you need.
Functionality of Insulin Pump
An insulin pump administers insulin in two primary ways:
Continuous, Small Insulin Doses:
Also known as basal insulin, the pump delivers tiny and constant doses of insulin throughout the day. The basal rates at which insulin should be given are programmed as the body requires different levels of background insulin during a 24-hour period.
Manual Delivery of Insulin for Meals and Correction:
Also known as a bolus, this involves administering a surge of insulin during meals or to correct high blood sugar levels. The pump calculates the required bolus insulin based on user-input data regarding carbohydrate intake and current blood sugar levels.
Types of Insulin Pumps
Generally, there are two categories of pump devices:
- Conventional insulin pumps: These feature an insulin reservoir and pumping mechanism. They are attached to the body with tubing and an infusion set. The pump body consists of buttons for programming insulin delivery. It includes adjusting the insulin for meals or the option to temporarily suspend the insulin infusion.
- Insulin patch pumps: They are worn directly on the body. These pumps include a reservoir, pumping mechanism, and infusion set within a compact case. Patch pumps are wirelessly controlled by a separate device. They enable the programming of insulin delivery for meals directly from the patch.
Why are Insulin Pumps a better option for Optimizing Diabetes Control?
Insulin pumps offer several advantages that make them a preferable option for optimizing diabetes control. Some reasons why insulin pumps are considered a better option are:
- Improved Blood Sugar Management: Insulin pumps enable precise insulin administration, minimizing the chances of experiencing extreme highs and lows in blood sugar levels. This, in turn, promotes better overall control of blood sugar and reduces the likelihood of complications related to diabetes.
- Increased Flexibility: Insulin pump users enjoy greater flexibility in their daily routines. They can modify basal rates and bolus doses to accommodate fluctuations in activity levels, meal sizes, and daily schedules.
- Elevated Quality of Life: The convenience offered by insulin pumps can significantly enhance the overall quality of life for individuals with diabetes. The elimination of the need to carry syringes and insulin vials, coupled with the discreet nature of the pump, provides more freedom and confidence in social situations.
- Lowered Risk of Hypoglycemia: Insulin pumps contribute to a decreased risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) by delivering precise insulin doses and suspending insulin delivery when necessary.
- Reduced Injection Frequency: Insulin pump users avoid the need for multiple daily injections. This not only enhances convenience but also reduces the discomfort associated with frequent injections.
- More Time-Efficient: Individuals with diabetes frequently need to administer insulin through multiple daily injections. Those using insulin pumps only need to change their infusion site every two to three days.
Drawbacks of using an Insulin Pump
- Becoming proficient with an insulin pump demands initial training and ongoing guidance compared to insulin injections.
- Depending on the pump style and clothing preferences, the device may create a noticeable bulge under clothing. Hence it may be visible to others.
- Expenses of insulin pumps can be financially burdensome.
- Insulin pump users may experience reactions at the infusion site, including redness or infection.
- The potential serious consequences of technology malfunctions, leading to either too much or too little insulin delivery.
- Some individuals view insulin pumps as a hindrance to daily life. As it includes interference with activities like going to the beach, swimming etc. due to the constant presence of the device.
In summary, insulin pumps are instrumental in optimizing diabetes control by providing precise and customizable insulin delivery. While acknowledging their advantages, including reduced hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia risks, it’s crucial to consider challenges such as the learning curve and visibility concerns. It is crucial to understand that insulin pumps are not a cure for diabetes, but they can be a valuable tool to help you manage your condition better. By using an insulin pump correctly and following your doctor’s advice, you can achieve optimal blood sugar control and reduce the risk of diabetes-related complications. Ongoing advancements in research offer promise for further enhancing diabetes management and overall quality of life.