Insulin pump: what is it for? What are the benefits?

Due to advances in the field of medicine, several diseases can be treated in different ways. The diabetes is one of them, since, in addition to drugs and insulin injections, there are also devices that can measure the glycemic index of the patient, quickly and safely.

Another advantageous feature for people with this condition is the use of the insulin pump, which allows patients to replace frequent insulin injections with the device. If you want to know more information about the insulin pump, read the text below

What is the insulin pump?

The device is an advantageous resource for those suffering from type 1 diabetes.

The insulin pump (or insulin infusion pump) is a small, portable electronic device that delivers a programmed insulin dosage for 24 hours, configuring a continuous insulin infusion (SIC) system.

The insulin pump is mainly intended for people with type 1 diabetes, which occurs when the pancreas does not produce the hormone, triggering the increase in glucose in the body.

However, it can also be indicated for people who have other types of diabetes  if the endocrinologist considers it beneficial for the treatment.

The main advantage of this device is that people who need to give daily and frequent insulin injections can decrease or even eliminate (according to medical guidelines) the use of injections. In addition, it helps to better control glucose levels in the bloodstream.

The device also allows the treatment against diabetes to be more effective, because due to being a portable resource, it prevents the patient from being harmed in case of forgetfulness, unlike what happens with medications and injections.

How does the insulin pump work?

The insulin pump occurs as follows: the device is programmed by a doctor according to the dosage required by the patient and, in sequence, is fixed somewhere in the body. Thereafter, the insulin is released by the device and is transported through a small tube until it reaches a cannula, which is connected to the patient due to a flexible needle inserted in the subcutaneous region of the abdomen, arm or thigh.

In general, programming can take two forms:

  • Basal: when the endocrinologist sets the rate of insulin that will be released continuously in small amounts for the performance of normal body functions, which does not include food.
  • Bolus: when the patient configures the device to deliver extra doses of insulin, either to equate with a food to be consumed or to correct the high blood glucose level. In that case, it is necessary that the person uses the calculator present in the pump, which is essential to set the right dose based on the amount already established by the doctor.

Who can use an insulin pump?

One of the requirements for using the insulin pump is to measure capillary blood glucose (minimum 4 times a day).

The insulin pump is seen as a safe device and can normally be used by patients of any age and sex who have insufficient insulin and wish to replace constant injections of the hormone.

However, it is necessary to consult with an endocrinologist about other important criteria that must be taken into account for the efficient use of the device..

Some of them, according to the Brazilian Diabetes Society (SBD), are:

  • To be able to measure capillary blood glucose (minimum 4 times a day);
  • Know the carbohydrate counting process and already be doing insulin therapy;
  • In the phase of changing the insulin dosage to be released by the pump, it starts measuring capillary glycemia for at least 6 to 8 times a day;
  • Always be willing to inform the doctor and the team responsible for the device;
  • Follow the diet proposed by the nutritionist and do frequent physical activity according to the guidelines of a physical professional;
  • Do not worry about using the device 24 hours a day;
  • Be aware that it is necessary to make changes in the routine to control diabetes;
  • Do not have a history of eating disorders such as bulimia;

In addition to complying with all requirements, it is essential that the patient has the financial means to purchase the insulin pump and pay for the maintenance of the device.

What are the benefits of the insulin pump?

Problems that can happen due to forgetting daily insulin injections, with the use of the pump are more easily avoided.

Also according to the Brazilian Diabetes Society (SBD), the main advantages with the use of the insulin pump are:

Greater flexibility at mealtimes

The treatment of patients with diabetes involves, in addition to resources such as medications and hormone replacement, the adoption of more rigid habits in relation to food and physical exercise.

These habits are fundamental for the control of diabetes, since it is necessary to ingest a regulated amount of carbohydrates (source of sugar) and exercise correctly to work the muscle cells and help them to capture glucose independently of insulin, which provides greater well-being to the patient.

Thus, with the use of the insulin pump, which releases adequate insulin doses for each hour of the day, it is possible to better regulate the level of carbohydrate ingested at meals and to plan the exercise routine.

Reduced risk of hypoglycemia

The hypoglycaemia is a disorder that occurs due to low glucose concentration sangue.Essa change can be caused by the high rate of insulin in the body, as is the hormone responsible for enabling the entry of glucose into cells, decreasing the concentration in the stream blood.

Because the insulin pump is adjusted to release the necessary dosage of the hormone, it promotes the reduction of the patient’s chances of having a hypoglycemia condition and the common symptoms of the disorder, such as tremors and vertigo.

Improves glycemic control

The insulin pump significantly improves glycemic control, as it allows to define the appropriate insulin dosage for the patient at each time of the day and, consequently, helps to avoid the dawn phenomenon, which is when the elevation of the glycemic rate occurs between 4 hours of the morning and 8 hours of the morning.

This phenomenon causes hyperglycemia due to the elevated glycemic rate. However, it only causes hypoglycemia if the insulin dose is higher than the glycemic rate (in this case, difficult to happen, because this is when the glycemic peak occurs).

With the insulin pump, it is possible to reduce the chances of this happening, ensuring the patient’s health and quality of life. However, for this it is necessary to strictly follow the medical guidelines regarding the device.

Where to buy insulin pump?

Unfortunately, the insulin pump is not a resource accessible to everyone, because its value is considered high.

On average, the * price of the device is R $ 5,000 to R $ 15,000 and can be purchased by order directly with manufacturers, after the presentation of the medical request document.

It is also possible to obtain the device and materials necessary for maintenance free of charge from the government. However, it is very difficult, since it is not offered by the Unified Health System (SUS) and demands a detailed lawsuit on the condition of the patient and the degree of need for the device.