Thursday, 11 February 2016

What good is an insulin pump?

I met two people recently that I've known for a while, but I didn't know they have connections to type 1 diabetes. One person is a PwD and one is married to a PwD.

As always, the fact that I have an insulin pump comes up in conversation. And, as always, they ask "how I find the pump?" (that's an Irish person's equivalent of "Tell me exactly how you benefit from having it").

They don't really know what an insulin pump is or how it works. This doesn't surprise me because unless you are very interested in getting one you really don't do the research into it and in most of our diabetes clinics it's not really explained. (No need to promote what long waiting lists and lack of resources prevent you from providing).

Both people made the exact same comment of "but you still have to do the finger prick tests"! I wasn't expecting this comment so my response was insufficient. I had said something to the effect of "Well, yeah but I don't have to be messing around with two different types of insulin."

COMPLETELY, forgetting one of the best advantages of an insulin pump!

And I'm so kicking myself that I didn't think of this at the time but the point is you don't have to stab yourself with a needle 5-6 times per day, you only have to stab yourself once every three days. How could I forget that?

Next time I'll be ready! I hope.

One of the biggest questions that someone with type 1 diabetes may ask is, “what are the major differences between going on an insulin pump vs staying on injections???” well this is a very good question to ask. There are a lot of advantages and disadvantages between the two methods so let’s take a look at some of the more apparent ones to see which method is best for you.
  • Insulin injections require a lot less training than pump therapy. Using a pump requires professional training and scrutinizing blood glucose management as opposed to insulin injections
  • Insulin pumps mimic the function of the pancreas a lot better than insulin shots do making insulin distribution a lot more precise than insulin shots which helps reduce the peaks in blood glucose
  • There is also a higher chance of developing DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis) while using a pump than when using injections (this can be caused when the tube is not correctly inserted under the skin and the user doesn’t notice)
  • Insulin injections require multiple shots a week where insulin pumps only require one every three days or so (frequent injections can cause some resistance to insulin absorption).
  • Insulin shots are more affordable than insulin pumps
  • Insulin pumps require the use of only one type of insulin whereas insulin injections use at least two different types (a fast acting and a long acting insulin).
So whether you are looking for a more flexible method or if you just like to stick with your sliding scale at every meal, knowing the differences in the end will help you make the right decision regarding how you manage your diabetes.

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