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Insulin Pump Uses

Insulin pumps are used for delivering insulin continuously throughout the day to people with diabetes. They can also provide additional doses as necessary. Although they can be used to replace insulin injections, they do not necessarily make managing diabetes easier. Since children are not capable of programming the device on their own, talk to your healthcare provider about using an insulin pump in children.

Uses for an Insulin Pump: An Overview

Insulin pumps are used to help people with diabetes control their blood sugar (blood glucose). Most people who use an insulin pump have type 1 diabetes, although some people with type 2 diabetes who take insulin may benefit from using an insulin pump as well.

How Are Insulin Pumps Used?

In healthy people without diabetes, insulin levels do not stay the same throughout the day; instead, they fluctuate in response to changes in blood sugar levels. In order to mimic the natural insulin changes that help keep blood sugar safely controlled, many healthcare providers recommend "basal-bolus" insulin regimens. These regimens often involve a long- or intermediate-acting insulin to provide a basal insulin level (a relatively steady background level of insulin throughout the day). A rapid- or short-acting insulin is added to provide the bolus (a quick, fast-acting, short-lived dose of insulin) to handle the sudden rise in blood sugar levels that follows each meal. While such regimens work for many people, they require several injections a day and may produce unpredictable effects, usually due to the long- or intermediate-acting insulins.
For people having trouble controlling their blood sugar with standard insulin injections, an insulin pump can be used to help get things under control. Insulin pumps are programmed to deliver tiny amounts of insulin continuously throughout the day (the basal rate) and can also provide additional doses as necessary (bolus doses). The basal rate can be variable. In other words, you can program it to deliver different basal rates throughout the day. For instance, you might need to have a high basal rate for early morning in order to counteract the increase in blood sugar that occurs in the early hours of the morning (the dawn phenomenon).
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