Benefits and disadvantages of insulin pump therapy
Since 1963 when Dr. Arnold Kadish developed the first prototype for a pump that had the ability to deliver insulin and glucagon injections, pumps have come a long long way. This original pump was about the size of a microwave and was designed to be worn like a backpack!
More recently, some of our members have found the following benefits and disadvantages of insulin pump therapy, however as everyone is different these will vary from person to person.
Some benefits of insulin pump therapy
- improved blood glucose control
- more precise dosing and easy adjustments than with MDI
- using different bolus types to cover problematic food
- easier control of hormonal spikes
- management of dawn phenomenon
- hypoglycaemia is less common with pump use and can help improve hypo awareness
- convenience, flexibility and spontaneity
- freedom to have a lie in
- eat when and if you want
- shift work, or unpredictability at work, activity or stress!
- weight control, both losing and gaining weight are easier when using a pump
- improved ability to manage BGs for people with irregular lifestyles and shift work
- exercise with confidence
- participating in sport and fitness activities is easier on a pump – athletes competing at a high level find pump therapy advantageous
- spontaneity – pump therapy makes unplanned activity and changes to meals times and carbohydrate intake easier to manage making it ideal for fun family activities for children and young people with active lifestyles
- fewer injections
- Discrete bolusing
- Not forgetting pens!
- less damage to injection sites – children have many years ahead to inject, it is important to keep sites as healthy as possible, 1 cannula insertion every 2 or 3 days compared to 5 or more injections a day on MDI
- improvement in quality of life – many people find that they are less tired on insulin pump therapy, and report an increase in their general wellbeing which can lead to less sick days off work, or less school/college/university absences
- When other conditions are a contributing factor ASD, Addisons (steroid dependent) Sensory Difficulties, etc.
- Management of sick days
- Fasting for example, people with Coeliac disease, may not be able to eat for longer periods of time if GF food is unavailable
- More than 90% of all pumps used in the UK today are compatible with Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) – normally as an added extra. Using CGM gives more benefits to the pump user and their family.
Some possible disadvantages include:
- frequent blood glucose testing
- being attached 24/7
- technical difficulties
- skin irritation
- risk of infection at insertion site
As a pump is a device it can have faults, it is therefore very important you follow guidelines for using an insulin pump, and do a minimum 4 blood glucose tests per day, you must act of any unexpected high test results.
It is important to remember, like any insulin regime, the more you put onto it the more you will get out of it. With a pump it is easier to make adjustments if you put the added effort in. Improvement on HbA1c will likely be a refection of your current control.