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Insulin Pump Warnings and Precautions

Before you begin using an insulin pump, warnings and precautions for the device should be discussed with your healthcare provider. Make sure you know exactly how to use the pump before leaving your healthcare provider's office. It is also important to let him or her know if you have liver disease, kidney disease, or any allergies before using an insulin pump.

What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider Before Using an Insulin Pump?

Talk with your healthcare provider prior to using an insulin pump if you have:
  • Liver disease, such as liver failure, cirrhosis, or hepatitis
  • Kidney disease, such as kidney failure (renal failure)
  • Vision problems that would prevent you from properly programming or using a pump
  • Problems with manual dexterity that would prevent you from properly programming or using a pump
  • Hearing problems that would prevent you from hearing the pump alarms
  • An unwillingness to check your blood sugar often
  • Any allergies, including allergies to foods, dyes, or preservatives.
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
  • Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
  • Breastfeeding.
Make sure to tell your healthcare provider about any medications you are taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Specific Precautions and Warnings With the Insulin Pump

Warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to using an insulin pump include the following:
  • Insulin pumps are not used to make managing diabetes easier. In fact, using a pump takes hard work and practice. You must frequently monitor your blood sugar, calculate the appropriate dosage based on your blood sugar and your meals, and make adjustments as necessary.
  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) is the most common (and usually most serious) side effect of insulin medications. Make sure you and those around you know how to identify your warning signs of low blood sugar and how to respond. You must test your blood sugar levels regularly while using an insulin pump or any other insulin. Low blood sugar levels can be a life-threatening problem.
  • In order to use an insulin pump safely, you must be able to see well enough to properly operate the pump and hear well enough to be aware of the pump alarms. You must also have enough manual dexterity to operate the pump.
  • Using a pump does not eliminate the need for checking your blood sugar. On the contrary, you may even need to check your blood sugar more often than you did with insulin injections.
  • Just like with insulin injections, you must adjust your insulin dose to account for meals and physical activity.
  • Make sure you know exactly how to use your insulin pump before leaving your healthcare provider's office. Make sure you can contact your healthcare provider at any time if you need help.
  • It is important to have a backup way available to inject insulin in case your pump malfunctions.
  • Be sure to change your infusion set (the tubing along with the needle or cannula) every two to three days. Failure to do so could increase the risk of infections or other problems.
  • Do not ignore pump alarms. Check to see what is causing the alarm, and take action if needed.
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