Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels in the body and Diabetes is a chronic condition that occurs when either the pancreas cannot produce insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces.
For diabetics dependent on insulin one of the effective ways to take it and manage their diabetes is by using an insulin pump.
An insulin pump is a computerized device that is worn externally and is clipped to your belt, or hidden under your clothes. It is the size of a cell phone. It delivers exact dozes of insulin to match your body’s insulin needs. There are two types of doses:
- Basal Rate: Small amount of insulin delivered throughout the day for normal functions of the body (excluding foods).
- Bolus Dose: Additional insulin can be delivered to match the food you are going to eat or to correct high blood sugar level.
There are many advantages of using an insulin pump. Similarly, there are certain disadvantages as well. Some people find it convenient while for others, it’s a hassle. Let’s weigh the pros and cons of using a pump.
- Flexibility: Pump offers flexibility. Since the insulin pump uses only more predictable rapid-acting insulin, the person does not need to follow a strict schedule for eating, activity, and insulin injections. They can eat when they are hungry and delay a meal if they want. If someone is not well and has an increase in their blood sugar levels, they can reduce their basal level.
- Fewer injections: If you take three injections a day, you end up taking 90 injections a month. With a pump, you only have to change the infusion 12 times in a month.
- Better control: Because the doses are precise, it can help one gain better control over their diabetes. This can help in reducing long term complications due to diabetes.
- More predictability: Long-acting insulin taken by needle can pool under the skin which may result in uneven absorption. Insulin pumps use rapid-acting insulin which is immediately absorbed better and with more predictability.
- Discomfort: Inserting a pump can cause anxiety or discomfort in people, especially in children. Also, moving around the whole day with a pump is uncomfortable for some people.
- Infection: The most common complaint amongst people using the pump is the infection that arises around the area where the pump is inserted. Skin infections are very common in infusion sites and it’s the same for people using a pump.
- Increased sloppiness: With an insulin pump, it’s easier to stop and start your basal rate. Since it all depends on a click on a button, you can decide to eat sweets and then just take a bolus dose to compensate for that. With injections, you are much more cautious as it requires you to prick yourself and you don’t want to do that multiple times in a day.
- Cost: An insulin pump in India costs around Rs. 175000, with an additional Rs. 10000-12000 as maintenance cost per month, making it an expensive choice as compared to an injection.
There are people who prefer using a pump to manage diabetes while others are okay with the traditional method of taking insulin. If you are on the fence about deciding, it’s advised to weight the advantages and disadvantages well and take an informed decision.
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