Insulin Pumps for Type 2 Diabetes

4/23/19
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Insulin Pumps

Insulin pumps can be incredibly helpful for people with diabetes in terms of management. While many people still prefer the traditional method of insulin dosing via injections, insulin pumps have come a long way and help achieve better glucose control. Pumps are small, computerized machines that deliver insulin through a tiny catheter inserted into the skin with a small needle or cannula. There are two methods of dosing:

Basal: Small, continuous doses to keep glucose levels stable in between meals.

Bolus: Dosages to control levels after meals or correct high blood sugar levels.

Pumps operate similarly to a pancreas, but it is still important to check your blood sugar while using one. It is important to understand the differences between multiple daily injections (MDIs) and pumps in order to optimize your personal treatment plan for diabetes.

What about insulin pumps for Type 2 diabetes?

As we know, people with Type 2 diabetes are unable to use insulin effectively due to insulin resistance. Typically, T2Ds who require insulin are given an insulin pen or a syringe of long-acting insulin, short-acting insulin, or both. 

But those aren’t the only options. People with Type 2 diabetes wear insulin pumps, too, even tubeless ones. A misconception is that people with Type 2 diabetes don’t need insulin pumps, or if they do, it means they’ve failed at managing diabetes. In fact, thousands of people are using tubed insulin pumps and Omnipod, the only tubeless insulin pump, to manage diabetes.

Evidence shows that many people with Type 2 diabetes could benefit using available technology, but most especially, insulin pumps. People with Type 2 who take multiple doses of insulin daily should consider pump therapy.

Not everyone with diabetes will require the same amount of insulin. Learning how to self-monitor with the help of a diabetes care team can determine the necessary amount of insulin for treatment, including deciding if a pump should be used or not. That said, it has been proved that in those who did require it, the use of insulin pumps can help people with Type 2 diabetes reach their glycemic management goals.

What are some of the advantages of using insulin pumps with Type 2 diabetes?

  1. Pumps resemble an actual pancreas. With the basal and bolus insulin delivery, insulin controls effects of carbohydrates on blood sugar, pumps work similarly to the way a pancreas would and can give the wearer less to think about.
  2. Achieving a lower A1C overall is not uncommon for people who opt to use insulin pump therapy, especially in comparison to multiple daily injections.
  3. Pumps help decrease the risk of hypoglycemia, as they alert the user when they’re low.
  4. Weight gain has not been a factor in studies of users testing pump therapy.
  5. Discretion: it can be easier to control and conceal pumps, as opposed to opting to give yourself insulin injections in public
  6. It makes carb counting easier by automatically calculating how much insulin you need based on how many carbs are in your meal.

What are some of the disadvantages of using insulin pumps in Type 2 diabetes?

  1. Cost is definitely a factor here. This is the main obstacle in most countries. For others, insurance companies have specific procedures for Type 2 diabetes treatments. Health insurance plans vary and options like Medicaid and Medicare can be helpful in covering costs. Choosing the right health insurance plan is important, especially because not all health plans cover supplies like test strips, meters, and pumps and those without any plan at all will pay entirely out of pocket.
  2. You need training from your health professional. Insulin pumps aren’t difficult to use, but it may take awhile to get used to changing your pump sites every few days. You’ll also need to calculate your insulin to carb ratios and insulin sensitivity factor before using the device. 
  3. Like all machines, pumps can malfunction or fail. Some people find it hard to trust machines with their life and opting for pump therapy does not mean you can stop monitoring your levels yourself. This can increase the risks of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). 

People with Type 2 diabetes often prefer insulin pumps because of the flexibility that the treatment provides and the freedom from injections. We can’t forget that every person with diabetes has specific requirements and that is why it’s important to choose, along with healthcare professionals, the best possible treatment plan for each individual.