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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What is insulin pump therapy?

    I heard that Insulin pumps are better/ more flexible than multiple daily injections. Can you please explain it a little more?
  • Find a professional to answer your question

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    Kate Marsh

    Credentialled Diabetes Educator (CDE), Diabetes Educator, Dietitian

    Kate works with clients with type 1 and gestational diabetes, PCOS, and those following a plant-based (vegetarian or vegan) diet. As a diabetes educator, she … View Profile

    Insulin pumps look like a bit like a pager and are worn outside your body (clipped onto a belt or waistband or in your pocket).  They deliver insulin constantly through a narrow flexible tubing that is attached to catheter located under the skin in your stomach. You program the pump to give the amount of insulin you need – generally a small steady dose throughout the day (called your basal rate) and an extra amount (a bolus) when you eat.  Used correctly an insulin pump can give you much tighter control of blood glucose levels without multiple injections, can reduce hypoglycemia and can give you much more flexibility.  But they require regular monitoring of blood glucose levels, and you need to know how to estimate the carbohydrate intake of your meals and snacks accurately so you can give the right ‘bolus’ dose of insulin whenever you eat.

    Your endocrinologist or diabetes educator can provide you with more details and help you to work out if a pump might be suitable for your needs.

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    Kristina Craner

    Diabetes Educator

    Kristina Craner is a passionate Diabetes Educator with the knowledge and skills to empower people to manage their own diabetes. Fully qualified with a Bachelor … View Profile

    I agree with Dr Kate Marsh above. Insulin Pumps can provide with much more flexibiity in life. Insulin pump therapy with moving with the rapid advancements in technology.

    Insulin Pump Therapy can also be really good for people with hypounawareness as we can set target ranges to ensure you are not going to low.

    Also great for people who are highly sensitive to insulin and  need different rates of background (basal insulin).

    There are many benefits of insulin pump therapy - however there are disadvantages too - many people find having to have something on them permanetly quite challenging.

    I am not diabetic however i have worn a pump for a week to get a feel of what life would be life as a diabetic on a pump - it definetly took getting used to however i found the longer I had it on the easier it became.

    As Dr Kate Marsh mentioned talk more to your Diabetes Educator about insulin pump therapy.

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    Inger Wang

    Credentialled Diabetes Educator (CDE), Diabetes Educator

    I'm a Credentialed diabetes educator I work together with 2 endocrinologists. I'm specialized in type 1 diabetes, insulin pump therapy and sport and diabetes. I … View Profile

    An insulin pump is a small pump (the size of a mobile phone) that deliver all you insulin needs through out the day. It is programmed to deliver a small dose every hour to provide you with back ground insulin (basal rate-  that replace long acting insulin) and when you have a meal you enter your BGL and the amound of carbohydrate you will be eating into the pump, then the pump will calculate how much insulin you need to cover for the food and include a correction dose if needed.
    The pump is attached to you through a thin line and a small tube under your skin. That  needs to be changed 2 times a week, but that is easily done by your self. 
    An insulin pump can give you more accurate insulin doses and also give you more options of how you will have the insulin delivered and how much insulin you want/need.
    I hope you can use this information.
    Kind regards Inger.

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    Arlene is a registered practising dietitian, with a private practice in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, and has built a strong business over the last … View Profile

    If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, you may feel overwhelmed by all the new information you have learned and will continue to learn about managing your diabetes. You already know your main goal should be to get your blood glucose (blood sugar) levels under control in order to increase your chances of a complication-free life. Many people know this, but need to know how to achieve good diabetes management, while balancing the day-to-day demands of diabetes with other life demands.
    An insulin pump can help you manage your diabetes. By using an insulin pump, you can match your insulin to your lifestyle, rather than getting an insulin injection and matching your life to how the insulin is working. When you work closely with your diabetes care team, insulin pumps can help you keep your blood glucose levels within your target ranges. People of all ages with type 1 diabetes use insulin pumps and people with type 2 diabetes have started to use them as well.
    How do insulin pumps work?
    Insulin pumps deliver rapid- or short-acting insulin 24 hours a day through a catheter placed under the skin. Your insulin doses are separated into:
    Basal rates
    Bolus doses to cover carbohydrate in meals
    Correction or supplemental doses
    Basal insulin is delivered continuously over 24 hours, and keeps your blood glucose levels in range between meals and overnight. Often, you program different amounts of insulin at different times of the day and night.
    When you eat, you use buttons on the insulin pump to give additional insulin called a bolus. You take a bolus to cover the carbohydrate in each meal or snack. If you eat more than you planned, you can simply program a larger bolus of insulin to cover it.
    You also take a bolus to treat high blood glucose levels. If you have high blood glucose levels before you eat, you give a correction or supplemental bolus of insulin to bring it back to your target range.
    Knowing how an insulin pump works is one thing. But you may be wondering where you are supposed to put it. You can buy a pump case or it can be attached to a waistband, pocket, bra, garter belt, sock, or underwear. You can also tuck any excess tubing into the waistband of your underwear or pants.
    When you sleep, you could try laying the pump next to you on the bed. You could even try wearing it on a waistband, armband, legband, or clip it to the blanket, sheet, pyjamas, stuffed toy, or pillow with a belt clip.
    Showering and bathing are other instances when you should know where to put your insulin pump. Although insulin pumps are water resistant, they should not be set directly in the water. Instead, you can disconnect it. All insulin pumps have a disconnect port for activities, such as swimming, bathing, or showering. Some pumps can be placed on the side of the tub, in a shower caddy, or in a soap tray. There are also special cases you can buy. You can hang these cases from your neck or from a shower curtain hook.
    No matter what you may think, you can still have fun when you are using an insulin pump. When you exercise or play sports, you can wear a strong elastic waist band with a pump case. You can also wear it on an armband where it is visible. Women can tape the insulin pump to the front of their sports bra. Some coaches do not allow any devices to be worn because getting the pump knocked into you or falling on it can be painful. In this case, you may just need to take the insulin pump off.
    When you disconnect your pump, you are stopping all delivery (basal and bolus) by the pump. Here are some important tips to remember when disconnecting your pump.
    It is important for you to remember that if you stop your pump while it is in the middle of delivering any bolus – it will NOT be resumed. You may need to program a new one.
    Be sure to bolus to cover the basal rate you will miss. If your blood glucose level is under 150, you can wait an hour to bolus.
    Do not go longer than one to two hours without any insulin.
    Monitor your blood glucose every three to four hours.
    Now that you know how the insulin pump works and how to wear it, take a look at some of the facts to see if this is right for you.

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    Carol Cole

    Credentialled Diabetes Educator (CDE), Diabetes Educator

    I provide consultations in my clinic for type1 and type 2 diabetes , pre pregnancy support ,also insulin pump maintenance and initiation of insulin pumps. … View Profile

    I agree with all the above information. If considering an insulin pump consult a pump company representative that can visit you and go through the workings of an insulin pump. Its a quicker way to determine what you want in a pump as some do vary and it needs to be the right one for your needs. Good luck.  regards carol

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