Is An Insulin Pump Right for You?

If you have type 1 diabetes or insulin-dependent type 2 diabetes and are injecting insulin by syringe, an insulin pump might be a good option for you.  Insulin pumps deliver a base rate of fast-acting insulin 24 hours a day.  They also have controls to allow the user to give additional doses of insulin when needed based on foods eaten.

An insulin pump attaches through a cannula that is placed just under the skin. Tubing runs from the pump to the cannula to deliver insulin to your body.  Here are some of the potential advantages of an insulin pump:

  • Steady delivery of insulin instead of individual shots.
  • More accurate than injections.
  • More balanced blood sugar levels with fewer high or low swings.
  • Easier management of dosing – insulin is carried in the pump and can easily be added whenever you eat or if your glucose level is high.
  • Fast-acting insulin can reduce the variable response to intermediate or long-acting insulin.
  • Offers precise doses in very small increments.
  • Possible to exercise without eating large amounts of carbohydrates.

Of course, an insulin pump is not the right choice for everyone.  Here are some of the possible disadvantages of an insulin pump:

  • Pumps may be expensive -  some pumps cost around $7000 to purchase plus about $1500 in supplies each year.  Insurance coverage varies by provider.
  • You are always attached to the pump.  Some people find it inconvenient to constantly wear the pump. While it is possible to remove the pump for bathing, swimming, or exercise, you cannot be off the pump for extended lengths of time.
  • Pumps can malfunction or the catheter may come out, resulting in wrong dosing or no insulin delivery.
  • Using a pump can cause weight gain.

Using an insulin pump is not a cure for diabetes. You will still need to test your blood glucose daily and determine how much insulin to give yourself every time you eat. But an insulin pump can help balance your glucose levels and provide easy access to insulin any time you need to give yourself a dose.  Talk to your healthcare provider for more information about how an insulin pump could benefit you as you manage your diabetes.

Denise DeWitt is a freelance writer for



American Diabetes Association. Advantages of Using an Insulin Pump. Web. February 20, 2012.

American Diabetes Association. Disadvantages of Using an Insulin Pump. Web. February 20, 2012.

American Diabetes Association. Getting Started with an Insulin Pump. Web. February 20, 2012.

Mayo Clinic. Insulin pumps: Explore the pros and cons. Nancy Klobassa Davidson, RN and Peggy Moreland, RN. Web. February 20, 2012.


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