How to Use an Insulin Pump

Diabetes Care

Use of insulin injection causes inconvenience and pain through multiple injections per day. Furthermore, it does not maintain the consistency in the flow rate of insulin, which is not the problem with an insulin pump. When you are using an insulin pump, you can get rid of the pain caused by the needle and the amount of insulin to be injected into the body will be accurate. This will happen because of the pump reservoir (which will act as an insulin cartridge), a computer chip and the battery fixed inside the pump.

Using an Insulin Pump

Know Your Insulin Pump
First and the foremost thing to do before getting started with your insulin pump is taking advice from your doctor or a diabetes care provider. In this session, you will become aware about the working of the device and how to use all the buttons displayed on it. You may have to perform the task of using insulin pump after the session which will give you confidence. For more convenience, there are various types of pumps available in the market to choose from.

Set Up the Device
Once you are thorough with the details about your insulin pump, you are eligible to move on to the next step, i.e., setting up the insulin pump. There are a few steps in setting up the pump like, filling the reservoir, preparing the quick set and inserting the quick set into the body. Be patient and careful while doing it because, when you are a novice in this task, you are likely to make mistakes. However, don’t worry as you will get the hang of it eventually.

Fill the Reservoir
There are three parts to be set up in this section; the plunger, the blue connector and the insulin vial. Focus on the following steps to connect these three parts correctly.

  • Move the plunger to the end of the pump assuming that you want to fill it fully. You can check the efficiency of the plunger by moving it back and forth a few times before making it ready for filling. Usually, there isn’t any problem but it’s better to be sure.
  • Now gently place the insulin vial on top of the blue connector such that the needle in the connector goes straight into the vial (at a 90 degree angle). If the needle goes cross, you will end up destroying the needle as well as inserting a lot of air bubbles into the vial, which will be of no use. In case you face the above situation, empty the reservoir, get a new blue connector and start all over again.
  • The vial is airtight and needs to stay in pressure balance, so you have to insert as much air (as much possible through the plunger) into the vial before taking out insulin. While doing this, there is always a big air bubble, but don’t worry it’s manageable.
  • Once the reservoir is full with air bubbles, gently flick the reservoir to bring air bubbles to the top of the reservoir. Then with the help of the plunger, push the bubbles back into the vial.
  • Now pull back the plunger to get the remaining insulin into the reservoir. You will have to do these steps a few times to fill the reservoir as per your requirement.
  • The next step is to disconnect all parts. Firstly, pull off the vial straight from the blue connector (you can twist it a little). Secondly, twist the reservoir to detach it from the connector. Now, your reservoir is ready with insulin dosage.

Tip: Air bubbles can be dangerous to some extent because they can take up the space of your dosage amount and this will affect your blood sugar level causing further complications. So just be extra careful and avoid air bubbles coming in the way.

Insert the Quick/Infusion Set into the Body
This set is a piece that you inject into your body to connect the insulin pump to your body and pass the insulin into the body. Some people prefer using insertion devices instead of pushing the needle into the body by hand. There is a spring and a button in the device, which helps to push the needle quickly without much pain. The user has to only perform following few steps:

  • Place the insulin filled quick set into the insertion device.
  • Peel off the protective paper from the adhesive pad and stick the device against the skin.
  • Press the button.

Others who do not wish to use an insertion device will have to follow these steps to insert the quick set into the body:

  • Pull off the backside paper from the plastic case and open the packing.
  • With the needle facing downward, insert it straight into the fleshy side (love handle) of the stomach.
  • Now connect other end to the reservoir that is filled with insulin and place the reservoir in its place in the pump.
  • Lastly, you will have to adjust the setting on the screen of the pump according to prescribed dosage and deliver it into the body.

Tip: Make sure your hands are clean before handling the infusion set.

Tips on Using the Insulin Pump while Traveling

  • You can continue your regular routine of basal and bolus doses, changing only the time setting on the pump after reaching the destination.
  • To be on the safer side, you can let the blood glucose levels run a little higher than regular on the first day to avoid the risk of hypoglycemia.
  • It is important to carry supplies of long-acting insulin, rapid-acting insulin, and extra batteries and syringes, in case you require them.
  • Make the traveling companions aware about the signs of hypoglycemia and teach them how to use the glucagon kit in that situation.
  • You can face drastic changes in the daily routine while traveling, especially the meal timings, which can be greatly affected. What can you do at such times? Carry sufficient amount of snacks like, fruits and nuts to compensate when the meal is delayed. Glucose tablets can also be taken to overcome the situation of hypoglycemia.

Though insulin pumps are not automatic devices, they are the most accurate, precise and convenient insulin delivery systems available today. The user has to decide only the amount of insulin to be delivered and the rest is sorted. With results of blood glucose monitoring, one can use this device to obtain better control over blood sugar levels.


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