Pros and Cons of Insulin Pumps for Type 2 Diabetes
If you take insulin for type 2 diabetes, you’re likely using an insulin pen or insulin vials. While these options work well, you may still find yourself looking for other options. The next most logical next step is typically the insulin pump. And while insulin pumps can be an incredible tool, there are things you need to consider when using one for type 2 diabetes.
What is an insulin pump?
First, a quick overview of what an insulin pump is, then we’ll get to the pros and cons of using one. Insulin pumps are small devices that deliver insulin continuously into your body through tubing or a pod. In addition, pumps are programmed to your specific needs, allowing you to get the doses you need based on the timing of the day or the carb content of a meal.
A common misconception about insulin pumps
A common misconception about insulin pumps is that they are work-free. That is false. While they can make insulin dosing more exact and less burdensome, they still require you to change infusion sites, troubleshoot issues, and be an active participant in your diabetes self-care.
Insulin pumps pros and cons
Here are some of the pros and cons to consider when switching to a pump:
The pros of an insulin pump
Lower insulin doses - Typically you use 20-25% less insulin on a pump because the insulin absorbs much better when delivered in small amounts throughout the day.
Fewer injections - Most pump sites are changed out every 2-3 days which means you’d go from 4-5 injections a day, to one “poke” every few days.
Less burden - Some pumps are available as a system, called a closed-loop system. In short, systems like these allow insulin pumps to connect to your continuous glucose monitor and automatically adjust the amount of insulin your pump delivers.
The cons of an insulin pump
Costly - Coverage for insulin pumps varies depending on your insurance coverage. Even then, the initial cost for the pump can be high, with ongoing costs each month for supplies.
Programming larger doses - Pumps are typically geared towards those using smaller amounts of insulin. If you take larger doses, cut-offs for dosing at meals or throughout the day can make it more burdensome or difficult for you to get the dosing you need. There are workarounds (off label, but commonly used) like using more concentrated types of insulin in insulin pumps.
Body image - It takes some getting used to when you suddenly have a device attached to you 24/7. You have to think about your pump placement for different clothing styles. You also have to remove it during intimacy, showers, or certain medical tests.
If you’re thinking about shifting to an insulin pump, call your local diabetes education programs about reviewing options. You can also check out diabeteswise.org or connect to others using insulin pumps about their experiences.
Did you know that diabetes is a risk factor for developing chronic kidney disease?