The majority of people with type 1 diabetes do require regular insulin injections in order to ensure that blood sugar levels are well maintained, and that overall metabolic function is preserved. While every individual with the condition will require specific dosages and medication regimens, it is certain that injections will need to occur throughout the course of the day.
This can cause a number of concerns for individuals of all walks of life:
- Changes in lifestyle habits
- Concerns about injection while at work
- Managing the required drug protocol, ie. avoiding under or over dosing
- Ensuring the safe carriage of insulin and needles throughout the day
- Integrating blood sugar monitoring and insulin dosages at busy times
- Feeling trapped by the parameters of managing the disease
These are all valid considerations, especially when the onset of the disease is sudden, which can severely impact lifestyle function. Adjusting to the new regimen can take some time, although for some individuals, this adjustment will simply not fit into current routines. The option of insulin pump therapy can be a viable means of caring for one’s health while still being able to maintain lifestyle enriching experiences.
What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Insulin Pump Therapy?
From the most basic perspective, both lifestyle considerations and the severity of the disease can dictate whether an insulin pump is a good solution to health needs. The advantages and disadvantages can be seen as relative, since a point that may be considered positive by one individual could simply be a non-issue for someone else.
This also means that the most cited advantages for insulin pump therapy do come from individuals who find that the technology best meets their personal needs. Factors that can become an advantage in considering insulin pump therapy for insulin dependent people include:
- Having an inherent fear of needles
- Experiencing difficulty in managing highs and lows for blood sugar levels
- Exhibiting a tendency for hypoglycemia, especially from nighttime to morning
- Having trouble with HbA1c being consistently outside the target range
- Having a lack of awareness that both hyper and hypoglycemia can become health issues
- Concerns about the possibility of long-term complications with repeated injection site infections
- The desire to have greater flexibility in lifestyle choices
These advantages are heightened since an infusion pump will automatically adjust insulin levels, based on the readings that it takes from the body. The result is that the infusion array also reduces the need to have injections, while providing stronger control over dosage, which reduces the possibility of long-term complications. In many ways, infusion insulin therapy can provide a great relief for people who want to maintain their quality of life, even with insulin dependence.
As mentioned, lifestyle does play a large part in whether insulin pump therapy is the correct choice for treatment. Disadvantages can be based as much on the severity of a person’s condition as they can on the way in which that individual conducts their life.
Some of the more common issues for insulin pump therapy include:
- The pump is attached to the individual
- People who need minimal injections still need to wear the array at all times
- Insurance coverage for both the array and the insulin
- Irritation at the site of the cannula insertion
- Inability to adjust to hardware fitting
Just as there are many benefits, some people may find that insulin pump therapy is not necessary, or actually interferes with lifestyle. This is most commonly true with people who can manage their type 1 or 2 diabetes with minimal routine injections, and who also have their A1C levels under control and do not have issues with hypoglycemia.
However, this also means that many people will feel the insulin pump therapy is a positive adjustment in their healthy lifestyle.
Getting Started With Insulin Pump Therapy
The first step in getting started with insulin pump therapy is really to decide whether the advantages outweigh the disadvantages for any particular person. While this can include taking a personal inventory of the impacts of diabetes on one’s lifestyle, it can also include conferring with the treating physician in order to gain a clearer understanding of how the device nay benefit an individual.
Once the decision to go with pump therapy is made, speaking with a doctor can also provide a better sense of what types of pumps are on the market, and what the differences in design really are. As a result, patients can better decide on an array that will better suit their lifestyle, while also providing the health support that is necessary for wellness.
Insulin Pumps And How They Work
Another point that is important for people who are thinking about insulin pumps as a solution is in actually understanding how they work, since this can become a pivotal factor in choosing pumps versus regular injections. This can also become a consideration in regards to insurance coverage, as a variety of models can present choice variations.
At its most basic, an insulin pump is comprised of these basic components:
- The insulin pump – this is the technology of the array, and can include buttons to program insulin release, a screen to indicate the actual programming, blood monitoring, and a reservoir for the insulin.
- The reservoir – this is a cartridge within the insulin pump that holds the actual biological, and has a capacity for around 300 units of insulin. It is important to monitor intake, and generally the reservoir should be replenished every two or three days.
- The infusion set – this is essentially a very thin tube that goes into the body to provide a site where the insulin pump can be connected. An initial injection will set the cannula, and this will provide a port for the pump to be connected.
- Infusion insertion device – this connects the reservoir with the actual port in the body. Many insertion devices will pop into place with a button, but they also allow for easy removal of the pump when people wish to swim or shower.