Home > Health & Wellness > Health Library > Diabetes: Living With an Insulin Pump
More and more people with
diabetes are using insulin pumps instead of daily shots to manage their
disease. The pumps give them more freedom to eat, sleep, and exercise when they
want. Pumps usually help people do a better job of controlling their blood
sugar. A pump can be an important tool in preventing problems like very low
But using an insulin pump takes some getting used to.
The more you learn about your pump and how to live with it, the happier you
Some people say choosing which
pump to use is actually harder than deciding to switch to a pump in the first
place. There are a number of insulin pump companies, and each pump is slightly
Ask members of your diabetes team which pumps they
recommend. If you have insurance, find out which pump brands are covered. Then
ask those companies to send you information. Insulin pump companies also have
websites where you can get all kinds of information. Your diabetes educator
likely will have a variety of pumps that you can look at.
improvements in insulin pumps are happening so fast, your local hospital may
have open houses a few times a year so that pump makers can show their products
and tell you how they work.
Ask the company to send a sales
representative to your home. That way you can see each pump you are
considering, see how easy it is to program the pump, and learn how to give
yourself a bolus (extra insulin).
You should be able to try out
the pump with saline solution. That way you can really see how it works and
infusion site is the area on your body where you have attached your infusion
Hooking your pump on a waistband or carrying it in your pocket may be the
obvious choices, but when you don't have a waistband or a pocket, you have to
come up with other ideas.
If you wear your pump on a belt or
somewhere else in plain sight, you may get questions. Most people will just
think you're wearing a pager, especially if your tubing is out of sight. But if
the thought of having to answer questions about your diabetes bothers you,
there are lots of ways to keep your pump hidden. Just make sure you can get to
your pump easily when you eat or need to correct your blood sugar level.
Pump companies offer various holders that fit their pumps and allow you
to carry your pump on your thigh, your calf, or your arm. Clothing makers are
starting to make clothing especially for insulin pump users, with special
Here are some other ideas:
Some pumps attach directly to the body and do not need tubing. A remote device controls the pump. And some pumps are disposable and do not use tubing or a remote control. A pump with no tubing is sometimes called a "pump patch."
Planning ahead can help make your travels easier. Here are some
Other Works Consulted
American Diabetes Association (2014). Standards of medical care in diabetes—2014. Diabetes Care, 37(Suppl 1): S14–S80. DOI: 10.2337/dc14-S014. Accessed January 7, 2014.
American Diabetes Association (accessed March 2014).
Insulin pumps. Available online:
Beaser RS (2010). Using insulin to treat diabetes: General principles. In RS Beaser, ed., Joslin's Diabetes Deskbook: A Guide for Primary Care Providers, 2nd ed., pp. 263–296. Boston, MA: Joslin Diabetes Center.
Current as of:
June 4, 2014
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & David C.W. Lau, MD, PhD, FRCPC - Endocrinology
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