An insulin pump is a device that functions similar to the pancreas by releasing insulin into the body at intervals as determined by the doctor, based on the patient’s needs. The insulin pump itself is a small, square-shaped device that can be clipped onto a belt or placed inside a patient’s pocket. The device consists of a tiny insulin container that should be changed every 3 days, as well as a flexible tube which is inserted just beneath the patient’s skin.
An insulin pump can infuse insulin into the body in the 2 following ways:
- Basal release – A small amount of insulin is continuously released into the body.
- Bolus release – An extra dose of insulin can be administered by demand before a meal based on the patient’s diet and according to blood glucose levels at various times of the day.
Generally, diabetic patients check their blood glucose levels using a device that pricks the fingertip and provides the patient with near instant readings. However, the glucometer cannot provide constant, continuous readings.
In the past few years there have been developments in the field that allow Continuous Glucose Monitoring or CGM to be done more easily, enabling diabetics to receive 24-hour blood glucose level readings.
A glucose sensor
is a tiny device that can easily be placed beneath the skin of a patient. It analyzes glucose levels in the interstitial fluid at regular intervals. For example, every 5 minutes and sends these results via radio waves to the monitoring device. Patients can get a reading of their blood glucose levels and assess any trends related to increases and decreases, continuously, and at any time. Additionally, the device has a system in place to warn the patient when their blood glucose levels are too high or too low.
Patients can use a glucose sensor alongside an insulin pump to help regulate their insulin levels more effectively.
Moreover, diabetics who are not yet confident in regulating their own blood glucose levels and therefore suffer from large fluctuations in their glucose levels are now able to have a sensor installed — which will assist in analyzing blood glucose levels for a period of 6 days at a time. Afterwards, patients can remove the monitor and download the results for their own analysis and to assess any trends that may have occurred. This can help a patient better understand how to regulate their blood glucose levels through insulin use and the medications they are taking. When using a continuous glucose monitoring device, patients still need to do at least 2 fingerstick blood tests per day to calibrate and ascertain the accuracy of the glucose sensor.