There’s a lot to think about when you make the decision on whether or not to transition from injections to pump therapy.
- Less injections. Most people with diabetes would say the biggest advantage to using an insulin pump is the elimination of multiple daily injections of insulin. Instead of being “poked” two to four times a day or more, you are able to change your pump infusion site once every two to three days – drastically decreasing the number of times a needle must pierce your skin. This could be enticing as you deal with the day-to-day tasks necessary to properly manage your diabetes.
- Flexibility. Pump therapy also allows you more flexibility in what you eat and what times you are able to eat.
- Precision. Your dosing can be more precise with custom basal rate settings as well as having the ability to adjust how quickly your insulin is delivered. This usually helps cut back on the variability of your blood sugar numbers on a daily basis and can also decrease your frequency of low blood sugars.
On the flip side, there can be some disadvantages.
- You still need to test. Pump therapy does not eliminate the need for close monitoring of blood sugar levels, and if you struggle to remember to check your number you could still struggle even with adding pump therapy. It can actually be more dangerous for you to skip blood sugar checks while using a pump because if there is a malfunction with the pump – such as a kink in the tube – you have no long acting insulin in your system and you can develop dangerously high blood sugar levels rapidly.
- Cost. Pump therapy can also be expensive depending on insurance coverage. You will want to investigate the cost before making the decision to get a pump.
- You’re attached. Also, you may not like the idea of having a medical device attached to you twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
Type 1 or Type 2?
While pump therapy is mostly used for people with type 1 diabetes, more physicians and diabetes teams are recommending pump therapy for those with type 2 diabetes. The results have been positive. One study* showed a decrease in A1c of 1.1% with pump therapy compared to just a 0.4% decrease in people with diabetes using multiple daily injections. This decrease was also achieved without episodes of hypoglycemia. They were also able to decrease their total daily dose of insulin by over 20%. This is not surprising as insulin infused continuously has been found to be more efficient than periodic injections.
Advancements in technology have brought many new and exciting options to people with diabetes. Pump therapy can be a great option, and there are several different types of pumps with a variety of features available. Before deciding what kind of pump features best suit you, first decide if pump therapy itself will work for your lifestyle and personality. Talking to an endocrinologist or certified diabetes educator is a great way to find out more information and make the best decision possible!
Gabrielle Kemble, RD, CDE