Insulin pump therapy offers a number of unique and important advantages over traditional insulin injections. Speak to any pump wearer and you'll hear a multitude of reasons to go with a pump. Here is a list of the "Top 10":
1. Better Blood Sugar Control
Statistically, people who use insulin pumps have lower HbA1c's than people who take shots. An "HbA1c" (Hemoglobin A1c) test measures the average blood sugar over a 90-day period. Statistically, a lower HbA1c translates into less risk of developing long-term complications, and the possibility of slowing or reversing existing complications. Statistics aside, the pump enables patients to experience fewer extreme high and low readings, and more readings that are close to normal. Many patients experience less absorption variability when using an insulin pump. You'll feel good just to get off the "roller coaster." In particular, fasting (morning) readings tend to improve, as the pump's basal rate can effectively match the body's "dawn phenomenon." The dawn phenomenon is a tendency for blood sugar levels to rise in the early morning hours, and is a common occurrence in people with diabetes.
2. Less Trouble With Lows
By eliminating long-acting insulin from the diabetes regimen and replacing it with a true "basal" rate of fasting-acting insulin, the need to eat meals and snacks "on-schedule" is eliminated. As a result, pump wearers have been shown to experience at least 80% fewer episodes of severe hypoglycemia than those who take injections - particularly during the night (source: Bode, Steed and Davidson, Diabetes Care, April, 1996). Blood sugar levels also tend to drop more gradually with pump use - resulting in earlier detection of symptoms and fewer lows requiring the assistance of others.
3. A Flexible Lifestyle
Raise your hand if your lifestyle permits you to keep the same schedule day after day. Nope, didn't think it would. Unlike multiple injection therapy, there is virtually no need to ever "watch the clock" when you use an insulin pump. You choose when and if to have your meals and snacks, when to exercise, when to work and when to sleep. Travel is less of a challenge with the pump, requiring little more than a change in the pump's clock when you travel across time zones. In fact, you can do almost anything you would do if you didn't have diabetes!
4. Precise Dosing
Imagine being able to take exactly 1.75 units of insulin! The insulin pump is capable of delivering fractions of a unit with pinpoint precision. With insulin syringes, whole and half-unit dosing is subject to errors due to air pockets and user technique. For this reason, the pump is an ideal choice for those who are sensitive to small doses of insulin, such as children and lean adults.
Forget about the hassle and social stigma of drawing up syringes every time you need to take insulin. With the insulin pump, taking insulin is easy and discreet, anytime and anywhere. After checking your blood sugar, simply reach to your side, press a few buttons, and your insulin is automatically infused into your body. You'll find this particularly useful if you happen to eat more than you originally planned, since taking extra insulin to cover the extra food is just a button-press away.
6. No Daily Shots
Multiple daily insulin injections can be painful to your skin, as well as the tissue below it. Repeated injections can cause a breakdown of the fatty layer below the skin (lipodystrophy), resulting in embarrassing indentions, hardened areas of skin, and inconsistent insulin absorption. With the pump, infusion sets are changed every couple days, resulting in less pain and fewer problems with fat tissue breakdown.
7. Easy Adjustments
The one constant in life is change. From childhood growth, puberty and seasonal activities to pregnancy, menstruation, menopause and acute illnesses, insulin needs can change from day to day, month to month and year to year. The insulin pump makes it easy to adjust your insulin intake to best match your body's needs. Basal rate adjustments can make real-life situation much more manageable - such as the unexpected delays and surprises of social events and restaurant dining.
8. Weight Management
Whether your interest is in gaining, losing weight or maintaining, the insulin pump gives you the power to adjust your food intake as you see fit. Because meal sizes are flexible and snacks are optional rather than mandatory, weight control becomes more achievable than ever.
9. Better Control With Exercise
Long-acting insulin can cause untimely blood sugar drops during exercise and activity. However, hypoglycemia is less common with pump use. Pre-meal bolus adjustments make after-meal exercise and activity less troublesome, and temporary basal rate reductions make blood sugars much more manageable during prolonged activities, such as a day or soccer games or long-distance running.
10. Success Begets Success
When you take into account all of the ways that using a pump can positively affect so many aspects of your life, you'll soon discover that things you wished you could do before have suddenly come within reach. No more missed opportunities. Insulin pump therapy can help set you free from the complicated daily routine injections and put you on the road toward one success story after another. Go for it!