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Diabetes and Insulin Pumps


Medical expert Dr. Mohan S. Palaniswami answers common questions about diabetes:

Q: I have been a type 1 diabetic for four years now and use the daily injections, but would an insulin pump be easier to use?

Q: I have been a type 1 diabetic for four years now and use the daily injections, but would an insulin pump be easier to use?

A: Insulin pumps can offer diabetics more flexibility with their mealtimes than the usual insulin schedule allows, but they are best used by patients highly motivated to control their diabetes. Under the traditional schedule, a diabetic is expected to always eat three meals and a light snack, and the dosing of insulin at morning and at night is designed to reflect this. For the best control of blood sugar no meals can be missed, and no insulin injections can be skipped.

Long-acting insulins, combined with shorter-acting insulin at mealtimes, can allow for more flexibility. However, flexible dosing of insulin requires frequent blood glucose monitoring (as many as eight times a day) and a good understanding of how food and insulin interact.

With an insulin pump you still need to check your blood sugar regularly, but you can do away with daily injections. The pump provides your doses of insulin through a small tube placed under your skin. You only have to change the tube every few days. A pump can provide both a continuous, baseline level of insulin and the extra amounts you need at mealtime. Some pumps help calculate the insulin dose you need, and there's even a pump that can monitor your blood glucose. Pumps can help people with diabetes to control their blood sugar and enjoy a wider variety of eating times.

A physician experienced with the insulin pump should be a part of the team of caregivers who assist you with your diabetes.

For more information about insulin pumps, contact your primary care physician or try the American Diabetes Association at www.diabetes.org.


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