Choosing an Insulin Pump - Topic Overview
Most insulin pumps have the same basic features:
- The ability to program more than one basal rate:
for example, a rate for work days, a rate for days off, a rate for working the
- The ability to set a temporary basal rate: for
example, you can tell your pump to give you less insulin while you go for a
- Several meal bolus options. (A bolus is an extra amount of
- Basic safety features, including alarms that tell you if
your insulin is not moving through your catheter correctly.
ability to "remember" how much insulin you have used for both your basal rate
and your meal boluses.
Insulin companies also offer other features. Some will matter to you
more than others. It depends on your lifestyle. Questions you may want to ask
How the pump works
- How much insulin does the pump
- How many seconds does it take to deliver a unit of
- Is the pump's "maximum bolus" big enough for your needs?
- Is the lock that connects the tubing to the pump a standard one so
that you will be able to use different brands of infusion sets? Or will you
have to use the infusion sets made by your pump company?
- Does the
pump use batteries that are easy to buy?
- How fancy is the software that comes with the
pump? Do you want to program your pump using your home computer? Or do you want
to create your own database of how much carbohydrate your foods
- Does the pump come with a remote control so that you can
give yourself a bolus without touching the pump?
- Does the pump
include a meal bolus calculator?
- Are there extra alarms you can set
to wake you up or remind you to test your blood sugar?
- Is there a
lock-out feature so that your child can't play with the buttons?
it water-resistant or waterproof?
- Will the pump company file your
insurance claim for you?
- Will the pump company upgrade your pump at
a discount when newer technology is available?
- Can you purchase
prefilled insulin cartridges for your pump? Some people find this easier than
filling their own cartridges and trying to keep air out of the tube.
At least one company sells a pump that has no plastic tubing. The
pump and the needle are together in one small device that is taped to your
skin. When it's time to change your infusion set, you replace the whole thing,
pump and all.
Depending on your insurance company, your choices may be limited. You
could still get a pump that is not covered by your insurance, but you may have
to pay for it yourself. Insulin pumps cost thousands of dollars. And the daily
supplies that you need are also very expensive. Without insurance coverage, you
may not be able to afford an insulin pump.
A bright future
One of the biggest advances recently is insulin pumps and glucose
monitors that can "talk" to each other. Some continuous glucose monitors can be
left in place for 2 or 3 days, constantly sending your glucose levels to your
pump. These monitors are not yet able to tell the pump how much insulin to
deliver, but that day is getting closer. Your glucose monitor will one day be
able to run your insulin pump on its own.