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Whats the Process of Beginning an Insulin Pump?

Doctor explains insulin pump to young patient

If you have diabetes, you may need to give yourself injections of insulin one or more times a day to help control your blood sugar levels. In some cases, an insulin pump may provide an option that lets you avoid shots and perhaps gain better control of your diabetes.

In this blog, Dr. Shawna Purcell of Capital Weight Loss & Diabetes Center in Olympia, WA explains how you can get started using an insulin pump as well as how to know if you’re a good candidate for one:

What is an insulin pump?

Insulin pumps are small, computerized devices that deliver doses of insulin, a hormone that regulates the amount of sugar in the blood. It’s delivered through a small flexible tube that’s inserted into your skin and taped into place, and the pump itself is worn on your belt or in your pocket.

What is it used for?

An insulin pump is used by people who have diabetes to help deliver their insulin. It can be programmed to meet your individual needs, and you can change the amount of insulin that’s delivered. A pump can release insulin in two ways – in small, continuous doses (basal), or in an extra dose when you eat food (bolus).

If you use a pump, you’ll still need to check your blood sugar levels. This will ensure that your pump and infusion set (the way your pump connects to your body) are working correctly and that you’re getting the right amount of insulin.

Who is a good candidate for an insulin pump?

The pump can be a good alternative to insulin injections for some people, including the following:

  • People who want to avoid injections and are comfortable with wearing and using the pump
  • Active people, who can change basal rates or suspend the pump when they’re exercising
  • Women who are planning to get pregnant, since a pump can make it easier to control your blood sugar levels and protect both the mom and baby
  • People who have gastroparesis, which causes the absorption of food from the stomach to be delayed
  • People whose blood sugar levels frequently get too low

How do you get started using an insulin pump?

Talk to your doctor about whether you’re a good candidate for an insulin pump and ask any questions you may have. If your doctor recommends this option, he or she will show you how to use it and make needed adjustments. The needle can be easily inserted, often by a spring-loaded device that presses against your skin to insert the needle.

Your doctor can help you determine how much insulin to use by average the amount you use per day over a several-day period. A beginning hourly rate will be calculated, and it can be adjusted up or down for changes such as delivering less insulin when you’re getting physical activity.

What are the benefits of using an insulin pump?

An insulin pump can provide the following benefits:

  • Allows you to avoid injections
  • Fits a more flexible lifestyle – You’ll have more freedom about when to eat, exercise, sleep, etc. since the insulin dosages will allow for changes in these activities.
  • Provides precise dosing – It avoids problems of air pockets and user technique that can be associated with injections.
  • Easy adjustments – You can easily adjust your intake to reflect changes in your daily activities.

If you’d like to learn more about insulin pumps and find out whether this option could be right for you, make an appointment today with Shawna Purcell Capital Diabetes & Weight Loss Center in Olympia, WA.

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