Pros and Cons of Using an Insulin Pump:
An Insulin pump is an electronic device that is used to deliver insulin inside the body. It is used by diabetic patients in order to manage their blood glucose levels on a daily basis. It is a much more advanced alternative to insulin injections and insulin pens. Insulin pumps only need to be injected once every few days and ensures consistent delivery for 2 to 3 days. This makes them a very convenient and almost painless device.
Insulin pumps are mostly attached to the stomach and worn around the belt or stored inside the pant pocket. Insulin pumps provide consistent insulin delivery to diabetic patients and help in keeping their blood sugar levels stable.
Pros of Insulin pumps
1. No need for multiple injections
Unlike syringes and insulin pens which require multiple injections throughout the day, Insulin pumps only need to be inserted inside the body once every few days and ensure consistent delivery of insulin. Depending on the patient’s requirement and the capacity of the cartridge, an insulin pump would require insertion every 1 to 3 days.
2. They can be easily carried
Insulin pumps are very convenient devices that can be carried by the user everywhere. They are small and compact and can easily be stored inside the pant pocket or under the clothes. They are very discreet devices that would let diabetic patients perform their daily activities without others knowing that they are diabetic.
3. They are more flexible
Insulin pumps are more flexible than other forms of insulin delivery systems. They can be programmed to deliver insulin at certain times of the day and you can also select the speed with which the insulin is to be delivered. This makes the insulin pump act like an artificial pancreas that can deliver insulin to the body according to its needs. Insulin pumps can also be programmed to provide more insulin during exercise or sports and also when you are sick and need more energy.
4. Proper record of insulin usage
Insulin pumps keep a proper record of your insulin usage history. Just like a computer, it has some storage space available to store data. You can see the history by looking up the menu on the insulin pump screen. This record helps you to understand how much insulin was given to you on which day and how you reacted to it. This data can also be uploaded to a computer and graphed for trend analysis.
5. Insulin pumps have multiple smart features
Most of the insulin pumps that are available in the market come with many attractive features that can make blood sugar management and insulin delivery much easier than with other methods. The features are-
- Alarms that warn the user about cartridge change, problems with the pump, problems in insulin infusion, etc
- Bolus calculator which calculates the amount of insulin needed
- Compatibility with a mobile app that can give vital information about insulin usage and pump performance to the user
- Multiple modes that can be selected for insulin delivery
- Compatibility with a continuous Glucose meter that can give continuous information about blood sugar levels
Cons of Insulin pumps
1. They are costly
Insulin pumps cost a lot. They cost upwards of Rs 2,50,000 and this is only the upfront cost excluding additional supplies that are needed for its functioning. This makes insulin pumps unaffordable to many diabetic patients in our country. Even if someone can afford them, it might feel impractical to spend so much money on something like this when syringes and insulin pens cost much less.
2. Risk of Ketoacidosis
People who use insulin pumps are at a much higher risk of diabetic ketoacidosis from pump failure or insulin infusion blockage. Ketoacidosis is a very serious complication of diabetes in which the body produces excess blood acids known as ketones. It is a possibly life-threatening disease that can lead to diabetic coma or even death.
3. Risk of skin infections
The use of insulin pumps can cause infections on the skin of the user. It can cause skin problems such as eczema, scars, and wounds. Most skin problems associated with insulin pumps are caused by the cannula and adhesive used for insulin administration. If you use an insulin pump and are developing skin problems, then you need to stop using the pump and consult a doctor about the problems.
4. Tubes may get tugged
Using an insulin pump involves a small tube that connects it with the cannula. This tube can easily get tugged while doing some physical activity. Tugging of the tubes can be painful for the user, can create further uneasiness, and can also lead to insulin leakage due to the movement of the cannula.
5. They are visible and can be cumbersome
Insulin pumps can be visible to others which may cause the user embarrassment as other people might judge him or her for being diabetic. Insulin pumps can also be cumbersome to carry around everywhere every day by the user and also while sleeping where it may make the user uncomfortable.
Read an article about Pros and cons of insulin pump use and differences by age: aihw.gov.au