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Diabetes Information

Insulin Pump

The insulin pump is quickly becoming the preferred method for insulin delivery to diabetics since is provides a more consistent delivery of insulin and controls blood sugar level more effectively than even several daily insulin injections. There is a significant lifestyle advantage to the insulin pump since it frees the individual from repeated evaluation of blood sugar levels and requires less adherence to rigid schedules of sleep, exercise and food intake.

The insulin pump works by trying to mimic the way insulin is secreted naturally and delivers a continuous small amount of insulin. The most important reason for the insulin dependent diabetic to go on the pump is to prevent or delay the serious long term complications of diabetes, avoid wide fluctuations in blood sugar, provide flexibility in time and size of meals, and easily compensate for increased levels of physical activities. Pumps also allow the dose of insulin that is delivered to be adjusted and delivered on demand following the results of a finger stick blood glucose test. The Insulin pump represents the current state of the art for insulin delivery and blood glucose regulation to the diabetes sufferer. It offers a very good defense against the serious long-term health complications that the insulin dependent diabetic may face. By providing a more consistent and also instantly variable amount of insulin, the blood sugar levels remain more normal and this helps ward off the diabetes complications that have plagued diabetics such as blindness and limb amputation due to poor circulation.

The pump prevents blood sugar fluctuation and this allows more lifestyle flexibility, giving the diabetic individual more latitude in the timing of meals and exercise, and permits the partaking of meals of various sizes. The majority of those who use the pump feel that they are doing the best they can to approximate natural insulin production and a normal lifestyle. Although users are instructed to take special precautions when showering, bathing and swimming, as well as during sleep and while engaging in sex, the average patient experiences significant freedom compared with those who must take daily insulin injections. Some patients can be taken off the pump for intermittent periods of time, if he or she is well instructed in diabetes regulation.

The pumps are worn externally and are both small and light in weight (about four ounces). They include a length of plastic tubing that runs from the pump to an infusion catheter (infusion set) that stays inserted within the abdominal skin. There are no needles used and repeated injections are eliminated. The most significant advantage of this form of insulin delivery it that it provides a find level of blood sugar control that can not be gotten with other therapies and insulin delivery methods.

Not all diabetic patients are good candidates for insulin delivery via the pump. A patient must fit within certain parameters including being able to tolerate the physical inconvenience of wearing the device. The individual must also be disciplined and skilled in both pump use and sterile technique, and have the proper motivation to determine the blood glucose levels by finger stick testing in excess of four times daily. This is necessary to discover whether the pump is still delivering the preset insulin dose; the pumps are capable of malfunction, just like any other device, and a delay or blockage in insulin delivery can rapidly result in a rapid blood sugar spike and diabetic ketoacidosis. He or she must also be mentally prepared to make the appropriate changes in the pump microprocessor of the in response to certain stimuli including food ingestion, travel, stress, sleep changes and other variations to everyday life. The support of the patient's friends and family is crucial to the success of the usage of the pump and, since it is expensive, the patient must have adequate financial resources to purchase it and to acquire the requisite education for proper use. The patient must also be willing to contend with the continued risk of the potential for infusion site infection that will require antibiotic treatment. This risk can be minimized by rotating the infusion site every two to three days. Individuals who use the pump are responsible for keeping a supply of batteries on hand and to routinely check the condition of their catheters. They must also develop and maintain a rigorous skin care regimen and communicate closely with their physicians and other health care professionals who specialize in diabetes treatment.

The current pumps on the market have excellent reliability reputations and have alarms that sound if clogging occurs or the batteries are running low. Insulin pumps mechanisms incorporated within them that prevent over doses of insulin from being delivered. Even though the insulin pump offers the best method of maintaining consistent glucose levels, there is a high dropout rate among pump users.

Insulin Pump Manufacturers:

  • Animas Corporation - One Touch Ping
  • Disetronic Medical Systems (Roche) - Accu-Chek Spirit
  • Insulet Corporation - Omnipod Insulin Pump
  • Medtronic - Minimed Paradigm 522/722
  • Nipro Diagnostics - Amigo
  • Sooil - DiabecareIIS
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