Thanks to new improvements in technology, insulin pumps are becoming a more common way for patients with diabetes to manage their blood sugar. For those who are ready, insulin pumps can revolutionize the care you receive, but there are a few things to know and consider before you start shopping around.

What is an insulin pump?

An insulin pump is a battery-operated device that will provide your body with a constant supply of insulin. The device itself is worn outside the body and is usually no bigger than the size of a small cell phone (or a pager, for those of you that can remember those).

How does an insulin pump work?

The pump delivers a steady supply of insulin, even when you are not eating, this is called the basal dose (or basal rate). In addition, the pump can deliver on-demand doses (bolus dose) for food or to bring down sugars. These doses of insulin are delivered through a plastic tube called a cannula. A very thin needle will insert the cannula through the wearer’s skin and is then taped into place.

What to consider when buying an insulin pump.

  • Doctor recommendations. Before you start shopping for an insulin pump, talk to your health care provider about whether this type of diabetes treatment would be good for you. Your doctor may be able to provide recommendations about brands and models that would work best for your lifestyle.
  • Cost. According to the Diabetes Care Journal, insulin pumps and supplies cost patients an average of $3,923 annually, more than those who used daily injections. Most pumps need to be replaced every few years, making them an expensive treatment option. Before you begin shopping, check with your insurance provider to see which brands may be covered by your health care plan.
  • Size. While most insulin pumps are no bigger than a small pager, some models offer larger screens and buttons. If you have difficulty seeing, this option may work better for you.
  • Color. An insulin pump is worn round the clock, making it your most popular accessory. Fortunately, these devices come in a wide variety of both flashy and subtler colors. Before you purchase a pump, think about how it will match your wardrobe and how you will feel about wearing it everyday.
  • Additional features. Are you good at figuring out new gadgets? If, so a more tech-savvy device may work for you. Some insulin pumps work with devices known as continuous glucose monitors, or sensors. Similar to insulin pumps, these little devices are worn outside the body. They provide real-time measurements of sugar levels, providing the wearer with an update every 1-5 minutes. Users can set an alarm to go off when glucose measurements are too high or too low. The insulin pump can then be used to make the right adjustments.

If you are interested in next steps, check out The organization has great guides on how to get started on getting an insulin pump and how to get the devices covered by your insurance. Check it out!

If you’re someone who struggles with maintaining insulin levels on your own, an insulin pump may be right for you. There are many factors to consider before purchasing an insulin pump, though. Make sure you know what you want out of your device before investing in that equipment.