Diabetes Forecast

Insulin Pumps 101

What to know about insulin pumps

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Insulin Pumps

Reservoir: A pump's reservoir is where your insulin is stored. If you require large amounts of insulin each day, look for a pump with a larger reservoir (aside from the newest patch pump, most hold between 176 and 315 units).

Tubing: Most pumps use infusion sets with clear plastic tubes to connect an insulin pump to the needle or cannula under your skin. Some pumps are tubing free and sit on the skin, above an inserted cannula, like a patch or pod. Neither option is necessarily better, so it's smart to pick what works best for your lifestyle.

Basal Rate: Basal insulin is background insulin, and most pumps deliver it in similar increments. You can adjust the basal rate by various times of day, programming the pump to give you more insulin during the morning hours, for example, when wake-up hormones tend to make you less responsive to insulin, and less later in the day after you've been physically active. Children or people who are especially sensitive to insulin may want a pump that delivers the smallest fractional units of basal insulin.

Bolus Dosing: A bolus is the insulin you take to cover meals by telling the pump how many units to deliver. You can deliver a bolus all at once, over a period of time, or a combination of the two. So if you're eating a high-fat meal, which will slow carbohydrate absorption, you might select an extended bolus, which will counter the delayed surge of glucose. Children or very insulin-sensitive people may prefer a pump that allows for the smallest insulin quantities.

Bolus Help: Some pumps use grams of carbohydrate (input manually or selected from a food database on the pump) and blood glucose levels (input manually or received wirelessly from a meter), and account for insulin "on board,"or already dosed within the past four or so hours, to calculate a suggested bolus.

Meter and CGM Interaction: Some pumps wirelessly interact with other devices, cutting down on manual input.



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