How can Insulin Pumps Spare you From Painful Diabetes Injections?

By Dr. Surya Kant Mathur in Endocrinology & Diabetes

Nov 08 , 2020 | 2 min read

According to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), around 10 lac children suffer from Type 1 diabetes, most commonly called as juvenile diabetes. Poor glucose control for a child can cause severe diabetic complications later in life and lead to early death.

But smart insulin pumps are now changing lives of the kids who are suffering from diabetes. Dr. Surya Kant Mathur says, the standard practice for type 1 diabetes care is to mimic physiological insulin replacement as closely as possible and to achieve this there are two main therapeutic approaches: Multiple daily injection therapy or Insulin pump therapy.

MDI is the accepted standard of care for maintaining near-normal blood glucose to reduce the risk of complications, but injection therapy does not deliver optimal glucose control as compared to insulin pump therapy.

What is Insulin Pump Therapy and how does it work?

An insulin pump therapy is a small computerized device that delivers small amounts of insulin constantly under the skin through a small plastic tube. It comes in the shape of a mechanical device, a little larger than a pager, which can be attached to a belt or a pocket. One has to insert the cannula beneath the skin at the infusion site, usually in the abdomen or upper buttocks and insulin are delivered through this infusion set. A patient can keep the infusion set in the same place for two to three days (sometimes more). It can then be moved to a new location.

The pump is programmed to give small background doses of insulin (basal insulin) continuously throughout the day and night, depending on the individual needs. Each time the person eats, they activate the pump to give a burst of insulin (or bolus) to cover the amount of carbohydrate that they are going to eat. An extra bolus can also be given to treat a high blood glucose level.

The new-generation insulin pump is fitted with a glucose sensor and an automatic shut-off mechanism that can suspend insulin delivery when the device senses that glucose levels have fallen to or is below a user-selected threshold. This is primarily to control the severity of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) where patients ignore or are unable to treat the condition.

The insulin pump remains the most physiological system of insulin delivery available today.

Advantages of Insulin Therapy

  • It helps children to get relief from the daily pain of insulin shots.
  • Usually, diabetes patients have to take insulin injections before a meal, but an insulin pump brings more flexibility because it allows you to decide what and when you want to eat, when and for how long you play sports and reminds you of not skipping a meal. In short, you control the insulin, it doesn’t control you. This is especially useful for those who are frequently traveling with untimely food habits.

Precautions: While using an insulin pump

It is a mechanical device, so any malfunction can have an adverse effect on the patient. Besides this, an insulin pump therapy uses only faster-acting insulin, therefore any interruption in the insulin delivery (due to infusion set clogs, leaks, loss of insulin potency, or pump malfunction) may result in hyperglycemia (high blood glucose) within 2 to 4 hours. We advise you to carry an emergency kit to supply insulin in case you develop a problem with your pump.