People can manage their diabetes equally well with pumps or multiple injections, but some people prefer one method to another. This is not a lifelong commitment. Some people go on and off their pumps (but this should always be done with instructions from a person’s diabetes team). Remember that a pump is just a tool—a person can reach blood glucose goals with a pump or injections. But here are some pros and cons to think about.
The one absolute requirement for using a pump is that the user and/or the user’s caregivers are ready and willing to safely use the pump. This means that all of the tasks related to using a pump safely—and there are many—must be mastered and the person/family using the pump is capable of using it effectively. Most diabetes providers and insurance companies recommend or require that the person with type 1 diabetes check their blood glucose at least four times per day before they go on an insulin pump .If the pump stops working right, or the infusion set stops working, even for a few hours, the person using it can go into DKA, which is very serious and needs to be avoided. Checking blood glucose levels frequently will alert you to this possibility and will prevent the development of ketones.
People who might want to consider a pump include:
- Active people who benefit from changes in basal rates or suspending the pump when exercising.
- People who have frequent low blood glucose reactions.
- Anyone who has delays in the absorption of food from the stomach (gastroparesis).
- Women planning pregnancy.
- People who like the bolus calculator functions, including active insulin, that make it easier to determine insulin doses.
Downsides to an insulin pump include:
- It is more complicated than using injections.
- If it breaks or falls off, the person wearing it needs to be ready to give insulin by injection.
- It is expensive.
- All pumps are an extra piece of hardware attached to your body, either with tubing or attached to your skin.