Diabetes Pump

**All videos are done by Dr. Michael Greger M.D. to learn more about Dr. Greger please visit his website or his YouTube channel by click here.

Diabetes Pump Facts

For diabetes patients in need of regular insulin shots, use of an insulin pump might be a suitable option which prevents the need for constant injections. These computerized pumps are almost like a substitute for a normal working pancreas. By releasing insulin into the body at regular intervals in the same way a pancreas would under normal circumstances, insulin pumps safeguard patients from suffering complications they might experience by forgetting to take insulin shots at designated times.

How Pumps Work

Insulin pumps are programmable so that the proper amount of insulin is delivered depending upon the patient’s needs. They do not completely free diabetic patients from responsibility, as patients must still regularly check their blood sugar levels and may have to make adjustments in their insulin intake depending upon readings. They also have to make sure that they adjust their intake when engaging in physical exercise. Furthermore, the use of an insulin pump is not a replacement for a healthy diet.

People who use insulin pumps generally go about using them in one of two ways. Some patients administer their insulin injections at what is known as a bolus rate. This is when a large amount of insulin is delivered to the body prior to consumption of food or drink. This is done so that insulin will aid metabolic rates when they are most needed. Pumps also deliver insulin at a basal rate. This is when insulin pumps most resemble natural pancreatic function, as insulin is delivered with some constancy. These rates are not mutually exclusive, and often both are used to ensure proper insulin levels at all times.


There are many upsides to the use of a pump to help manage diabetes. Not only is insulin injected at a normal rate with precision accuracy in terms of injection levels, but patients are allowed a bit more freedom in the way they live. Hypoglycemic tendencies are not as commonly present in patients who use insulin pumps as they are with patients who undergo other forms of treatment. In addition, overall blood sugar levels are generally much better in patients who use insulin pumps; they are less likely to be too high or too low.

Furthermore, insulin pumps are an effective safeguard against what is known as the dawn phenomenon. This is a common symptom experienced by many diabetes patients, in which blood sugar rises due to a release in hormones early in the morning. In people without diabetes, this hormonal release is necessary because insulin often lowers blood sugar levels in the early hours before waking. The hormonal release helps to keep these levels from getting too low, but in diabetic patients it can result in a spike of blood sugar that insulin pumps can help to regulate.


There are some downsides to using insulin pumps. For some, the main drawback is that the pump provides a visible indication of their disease. Some people may find this embarrassing if they attach a stigma to having diabetes. On a more practical note, the constancy of insulin injections means that insulin must be regularly supplied. This can be very costly over time. Since the injections are done through a catheter, there can also be a risk of infection if the region is not kept clean at all times.

Finally, there is the chance that patients may experience diabetic ketoacidosis. This is a condition which arises when insulin levels are lower than desired. In such circumstances, the body will begin to use fatty acids as its metabolic fuel source. This can cause pain and nausea, as well as blood in the vomit and even pancreatitis or appendicitis. Patients whose insulin pumps are not working properly may be unaware of the problem, increasing the possibility of suffering from this complication.


Insulin pumps can be highly valuable tools, but there is never a substitute for regular monitoring of blood sugar to help ensure that complications do not arise. While using an insulin pump may decrease the number of limitations on the diabetic patient’s lifestyle, that does not mean that they must not retain some level of responsibility. Failure to make sure that pumps are properly functioning can lead to dire results, but proper use can assure that insulin pumps provide more benefits than burdens.