The number of people using insulin pumps has grown rapidly since their introduction over 30 years ago. Much of this growth has come from pump wearers enthusiastically sharing the benefits they experience. When used well, an insulin pump allows the wearer to feel better, live more freely and have fewer diabetes-related health problems. As pump, CGM, and closed loop technologies, along with their benefits for control, continue to evolve, the number of pump users will continue to grow.
The decision to go on a pump is often a turning point in a person's approach to diabetes care. Those who use pumps say things like, "For the first time in years, I can eat when I want to," or "I can really control my blood sugars now, and I feel better, too."
This section contains in-depth articles and comparisons of insulin pumps and their manufacturers, new and old. Learn helpful tips that will make your insulin pump experience a productive one.
Diabetes devices continue to improve with better control procedures, CGM integration, smaller sizes, color screens, more infusion set choices, faster insulin analogs, and better trend analysis and pattern recognition. A pump helps manage the complex interactions between insulin levels, blood glucose and carbs with less effort.
Choosing a pump can be tough. Take the time you need to make a good choice. You will depend on this pump for 4 to 5 years, so discuss different pumps and pump options with your doctor and health care team to select the features that will be most helpful.
See our comparison of the current insulin pumps out on the market. You can compare cosmetic differences as well as software differences for all the major brands.
A pump offers convenience, more consistent insulin action from day to day, easier problem solving, easier tracking of insulin use, less hypoglycemia, less risk of hypoglycemia unawareness, and fewer morning and post-meal highs. These conveniences come from specific features that are standard in most pumps. Training is required to benefit from all the pump features listed below.
Some info on currently available insulin pumps.
New and updated insulin pumps are always under development. We've listed a few of pumps set for release in the next couple of years.
Patch pump technology has been on the verge of breaking through for several years and now it may actually happen. Patch pumps are becoming popular because they avoid the tethered approach of current pumps. Instead of having your pump connected to your body via an infusion set and tubing, the patch pump is worn directly on the body, discreetly attached at the infusion site and wirelessly controlled with a separate device.
Other than the obvious benefits of fewer fingersticks per day, the ability to give insulin whenever spontaneous events arise, and quicker adjustmetns for changes in activity, a pump offers other benefits and conveniences
Bolus on Board (BOB) shows how much glucose-lowering activity remains from recent boluses so you can avoid insulin stacking, improve bolus accuracy, and know your current carb deficit or insulin deficit. BOB does not measure any basal insulin activity, only the amount of insulin that is still active from recent boluses.
An unanticipated problem faces pumpers who use the newer smart pumps: how to select a duration of insulin action that works for them but does not create problems. Insulin action does vary. In one study of Novolog, there was about a 25% variation in action between different users (Diabetes Care #11: pgs 1910-1914, Nov 21, 1998). This means that adjusting insulin action time to individual need in a pump makes sense, but a 25% variation means that insulin duration time varies by only about one to at most two hours, not the 2 to 8 hour period that is available in today's pumps.
The APP Study was conducted to see how people who have good control really use their pumps and to find what settings give the best glucose results. We analyzed anonymous data from several hundred Deltec Cozmo insulin pumps (Smiths Medical) that were consecutively downloaded during a large, routine software upgrade of all Cozmo pumps in 2007.
List of the older insulin pumps.