What is a basal rate?

The insulin pump actually uses rapid-acting insulin to create basal insulin, delivering tiny pulses of insulin every few minutes. Rapid-acting insulin is more efficient than long-acting insulin, and so pump users usually need ~20% less basal insulin than those who use NPH or long-acting basal insulin.

Many people start off with a single basal rate, given as insulin units/hour, and then they fine-tune their basal rates to change throughout the day. The daytime rate often differs from the nighttime rate. Again, if your blood glucose increases >30 mg/dL or >1.6 mmol/L during a period when you haven’t eaten anything, increase basal slightly, and if it decreases >30 mg/dL or >1.6 mmol/L, decrease basal slightly.

Optimizing basal rates on a pump can get complicated, so work with a CDE or pump trainer to help iron out all the kinks.