Why a Pump Instead of Shots?
How you manage your diabetes is a personal decision, but it's one you should make knowing all the facts. Here are some points to consider when thinking about switching from shots to an insulin pump:
Insulin Pumps Can Give You Better Control
Insulin pumps deliver only faster acting insulin, which is much more predictable because it is out of your system much more quickly than long-acting insulin used in injection therapy. So with a pump, you can plan your meals and activities with much more certainty about when your insulin will take effect. And unlike injections, you can stop or reduce your delivery rate if your blood sugars go low, or if you anticipate them going low.
If you're on shots, the insulin is in your system for much longer, and absorption can be unpredictable. Sometimes it works when it should, and sometimes before or after you expect it. This is one of the major reasons your blood sugar can vary so much from day to day when you're on injections.
Insulin delivery with shots versus pumps
With shots, you deliver larger doses of insulin at scheduled times. It often will sit in a little pool under your skin waiting to be absorbed. So your level of activity can directly affect when that insulin goes into your bloodstream. For example, if you're just sitting at a desk, it may go into your system more slowly. But if you go for a walk or a run, it may go into your system much more quickly. This makes blood sugars more difficult to control, which is why pumps take a different approach.
Pumps automatically deliver insulin in small doses around the clock, which is similar to how a normal pancreas works. With a pump, you have the continuous doses of background insulin (your "basal rate") to support your body's needs between meals. Plus, with a couple of button presses, you get an "on demand" dose of insulin (a "bolus") to cover meals.
Insulin pumps enable flexible choices
Pumps give you greater control over insulin delivery, thereby giving you more control over the onset of insulin action. That means you can determine what and when you want to eat, when and for how long you play sports, and even whether or not to skip a snack or meal. In short, you control the insulin. It doesn't control you.
Are you a teenager considering the pump? Read about the research study on why the pump is better for you.