Insulin Pumps for Type 2 Diabetes

4/23/19
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Insulin Pumps

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 are believed by some to achieve better glucose control. Pumps are small, computerized machines that deliver insulin through a tiny catheter inserted into the skin with a small needle. There are two methods of dosing: basal (small, continuous doses) and bolus (an immediate surge to control levels after meals). 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, the main characteristics of Type 2 diabetes are that the production of insulin is insufficient or insulin is not used effectively. Evidence shows that many people with Type 2 diabetes could benefit using available technology, but most especially, insulin pumps. The criteria for opting to start insulin pump therapy makes it explicitly clear that pumps are not for all people with T2D. Those who require multiple doses of insulin daily should be considering pump therapy.

The key is that not everyone with diabetes will require the same amount of insulin dosing, and 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 dosing methods working in tandem, delivering insulin at different rates and in different doses to counteract the carbohydrates taken into the body, pumps works 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.

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

  1. Cost! 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. Advanced diabetes education is necessary, particularly for carbohydrate counting, which is not something that is always taught to those who live with Type 2 unless they have been on a regimen with multiple insulin dosing in the past.
  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.

People with Type 2 diabetes often prefer insulin pumps because of the flexibility that the treatment provides and the discretion when using these devices. 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.