Keeping a Few Considerations in Mind before Using an Insulin Pump

The Big Diabetes Lie

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Most people who have type 1 diabetes (T1DM) prefer using a pump over other methods of delivering insulin. If you ask the experts, about 60 percent of members of the American Association of Diabetes Educators who have T1DM use a pump instead of needles; about 50 percent of the members of the American Diabetes Association who have T1DM use an insulin pump rather than needles. There are more than 300,000 people with both types of diabetes using pumps.

Studies comparing the control that patients achieve with multiple injections versus the pump show little difference, which means that your child can use a pump to get the right amount of insulin without having to worry about using needles. Here are five additional reasons that people who like the pump cite for using one:

1 The pump delivers insulin to the body much like the pancreas does.

1 Your child can adjust the amount of insulin by fractions of a unit and have many different amounts at different times of day. The insulin pump easily adapts to a patient's lifestyle.

1 Taking a larger dose before meals is as easy as pushing a button on the pump.

1 Your child can be more flexible with meals because he's constantly getting a small dose of insulin. That's great news for today's active youngsters.

1 There's less risk of hypoglycemia because your child is getting small amounts of insulin at a time (see Chapter 4 for details about this complication).

On the other hand, here are five equally significant reasons that people don't like to use an insulin pump:

1 It's much more expensive than conventional syringes and needles.

1 The pump is visible, especially when your child wears less clothing on hot days. Also, if there's a blockage, an alarm goes off. Essentially, it makes diabetes more obvious to others.

1 If the pump fails for any reason that doesn't set off an alarm, such as a leak, your child has so little insulin in his body that he may rapidly go into ketoacidosis (see Chapter 4). (I explain how to handle problems with a pump later in this chapter.)

1 Your child must monitor his blood glucose more frequently, sometimes more than four times daily, to properly use the pump. And right now, monitoring still means finger sticks. (Chapter 7 has the scoop on monitoring blood glucose.)

1 The pump is attached to the body 24 hours a day, making sleeping and physical activities like sports less convenient. (I explain ways to live comfortably with the pump later in this chapter.)

1 Pump wearers who engage in sex may find the pump inconvenient because it's attached to the body.

Not everyone is a good candidate for an insulin pump. The best candidates have the following characteristics:

1 They're highly motivated.

1 They're willing to stick themselves multiple times a day to check their blood glucose.

I They can afford the costs involved because many insurances pay only a part of the pump expenses.

I They understand how the pre-meal glucose and the carbohydrates about to be consumed are used to determine the insulin dose (see Chapter 10).

i They have a good understanding of the complications of diabetes, especially signs of ketoacidosis.

Kids of all ages can use the insulin pump. Parents usually manage the pump until they feel the child can do it.

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