Insulin Pump

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Insulin is used as a treatment for type 1 and sometimes type 2 diabetes mellitus. Ever since it has been used it has always been as an injection, given into the thin layer of fat below the skin. This is known as a subcutaneous injection (meaning below the skin). Many diabetics find that having to have a number of injections every day can be very inconvenient and painful, sometimes causing scarring to areas of the skin that are used.

Recently there has been a lot of research into new ways of giving insulin, in the hope that one day diabetics will be able to be free of frequent injections. One of the methods that has been developed is the insulin pump, also known as continuous subcutaneous insulin infusion.

There are 3 main parts to the device, namely the pump itself, a storage chamber for the insulin and a cannula (small tube) that is inserted under the skin, allowing the insulin to enter your body. The main advantage to this new system is that it does away with the multiple injections that are required by diabetics everyday. This can be achieved by using 2 types of infusion methods, either bolus or basal. Bolus administration is the use of one large dose usually following a meal when blood glucose levels rise very sharply, whereas the basal methods releases a continuous stream of insulin throughout the day.

There are however some drawbacks to the pump, namely that it requires frequent calibration and checking to ensure that the right dose of insulin is being given. It is also vital that you remember to monitor your blood glucose with a meter, just as you would normally.