An insulin pump is a relatively new advancement in the way to administer insulin into the body as a means to regulate the levels of glucose in the blood. People that have diabetes often have to inject insulin into the body via a syringe. This can be painful and sometimes inconvenient to do so an insulin pump is a useful alternative. This article will discuss how insulin pumps work and some of the advantages and disadvantages.
An insulin pump consists of :
a disposable reservoir of insulin
an infusion set - tubing and a cannula that connects the insulin reservoir to the body
The reservoir of insulin is fitted into the pump. The pump is about the size of a cell phone and can be worn around the waist in a pouch or any other way that you find suitable. The pump is connected to a cannula via a thin tube. The tube passes insulin to the cannula that is attached to the skin. In this way insulin is passed into the body.
Insulin pumps pass insulin into the body in two ways. The first is a continuous passing of insulin into the body. This is used to maintain the level of glucose in between meals, exercise or at night. It is called the basal dosage.
The second method is referred to as the bolus dosage. This is an instant larger dosage that is generally administered before eating.
The pump is programmed to deliver the correct dosages based on the individuals circumstances. If the individual changes diets or adopts a new exercise regime the dosages and the times that they are delivered can be altered.
The insulin used in insulin pumps is fast acting insulin so it is believed to be a better alternative to most syringe administered insulin, that is slow acting, and is generally an approximation of the amount of insulin that will be needed by the body.
Insulin pumps have a better idea of the amount of insulin that will be needed by the body which is better for the long term health of the diabetic. They allow the diabetic more freedom and to eat or exercise when they want. They are also more discrete than a syringe.
On the negative side, an insulin pump has to be worn all the time so it might be inconvenient for some people that play sport or swim. Strategies have to be developed as a work around for these situations. Insulin pumps are more expensive than the normal syringe method of insulin therapy. Changing from slow to fast acting insulin may cause diabetic ketoacidosis if the fast acting insulin is stopped for some reason, like the supply runs out for example or the cannula gets detached.
Research continues to improve the pumps in terms of features and size. It is thought that ultimately an insulin pump will be the best method to deliver insulin therapy because it is a more precise dosage and is less obtrusive. As development continues the price will inevitably drop and make an insulin pump accessible to most people.
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