People with diabetes need to take periodic doses of insulin every day to manage their blood sugar levels. The two main insulin delivery methods are through an insulin pump or multiple daily injections. Figuring out which method will work best for you depends on factors including which type of diabetes you have, the type of insulin you need to take, and how often you need to take it. This guide will explain the benefits of each, but you should talk to a doctor at a local family medical center in Suffolk County, NY, about these and other methods for insulin management.
What Insulin Is
Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that lets your body use and store sugar from the carbohydrates in the foods you eat. If, for example, you have too much sugar in your blood, which is known as hyperglycemia, the pancreas will produce insulin to balance things out. People with type 1 diabetes can’t make insulin due to abnormalities in their pancreas. They need to add insulin into their bodies every day to help process blood sugar and prevent blood vessel and organ damage.
People with type 2 diabetes don’t produce enough of, or are resistant to, insulin. In the beginning, diet, exercise, and oral medications are enough to manage their blood sugar levels. This type of diabetes can progress over time. If you’ve had type 2 diabetes for a long time, you will likely need to take insulin to maintain your blood sugar levels. For both types of diabetes, you will get a prescription for insulin from you doctor.
The most common method for taking insulin is through subcutaneous injection. The insulin is delivered directly into a layer of fat under your skin. You can use a syringe with needle and tube, in which you have to draw the proper dose of insulin from a vial. Or you can use an injection pen which has a self-contained syringe filled with a premeasured dose of insulin. Some pens are single use while others let you replace the cartridge after each use.
There are several benefits to using daily injections. They are easy to use; all you have to do is fill up the syringe or open a prefilled syringe pen, inject the needle into your skin, and you’re done. This creates a simple daily routine that won’t interfere with your schedule.
You will likely have long-acting insulin which you only need to inject one or two times a day. If you accidentally forget to take your insulin at lunch, you will have a backup available to develop ketones quickly. If you run out of insulin and need more immediately, you can go to any of the urgent medical centers or priority medical centers in your area.
An insulin pump is a small device that pumps insulin through a catheter. The catheter is inserted under the layer of fat below your skin. There are two ways the pump delivers insulin. Basal doses continuously release a steady dose of insulin throughout the day. This mimics how your pancreas would release insulin as needed. With surge or bolus dosing, you choose when insulin doses are given, typically around mealtime.
With an insulin pump, you don’t have to worry about doing injections multiple times a day, unless the pump malfunctions. You have less chance developing hypoglycemia because insulin is released before and during meals. Basal dosing rates are extremely flexible during certain times of the day.
How much insulin you need can be calculated by programming information into the pump. You just tell the pump how many carbs you’re going to eat and what your current blood sugar is. You can fix problems with high or low blood sugars easily and quickly, and you can extend insulin release over periods of time. Doctors at local medical centers can obtain information about the insulin from the pump.
Overall, both methods are excellent for regulating insulin and maintaining blood sugar levels. The most important thing is to take care of your diabetes using the method that works best for you. Remember, taking care of your diabetes means finding a balance between your needs and preferences. Discuss these options with your doctor to figure out whether injections or a pump is the better option.
Peconic Bay Medical Center’s doctors can help you determine which method is right for you. Make an appointment today.