People with diabetes are all-too familiar with the discomfort of daily insulin injections — but the advent of the insulin pump has opened up a whole new world of freedom and flexibility for many who suffer from this disease.
Insulin pumps are small, computerized devices that can be carried in a pocket or worn on a belt. A small, flexible catheter inserted under the skin of the abdomen delivers a continuous flow of insulin to the bloodstream. Each pump is programmed to meet the unique needs of its user, and the amount of insulin delivered can be changed as needed.
At times when blood sugar drops (such as overnight or between meals), a continuous flow of insulin keeps levels in a healthy range. At meal times, a bolus dose (a small quantity of fast-acting insulin that covers the glucose output of the liver) is delivered depending on the amount of carbohydrates you consume.
Users of insulin pumps must monitor their blood sugar level at least four times a day, and set the insulin dose according to their carbohydrate intake and exercise regimen.
Research varies on whether pumps provides better control than daily injections, so talking to your doctor is the best bet for deciding whether the pump is right for you. One big advantage of the pump is that it allows the user to exercise without eating a large amount of carbohydrates.
But the pump has drawbacks, as well. It requires training, vigilance, and it’s expensive. Your doctor can help you decide if the insulin pump is right for you.
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