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Choosing Between Insulin Injections or Pumps

December 31st, 2013 by Teresa

If you're considering switching from insulin injections to insulin pump therapy, each each method offers pros and cons. Here are some things to consider.

Insulin injections

Interested in simplicity? Injections win hands down. Less education and training is required. Many people do not understand this significant difference. An insulin pump requires professional training.

Injection therapy is also cheaper than using an insulin pump. So, cost-effectiveness and simplicity are two major pros.

On the the flip side, however, injections have a few significant drawbacks. If your treatment plan involves frequent injections, you may develop areas of the body that become resistant to absorbing insulin properly. Also, If you are using different types of insulin, low blood glucose levels can easily occur.

What about an insulin pump?

A pump is designed to deliver insulin throughout the day more consistently which produces fewer highs and lows in blood glucose levels. The secret to these consistent blood glucose levels is the fact that the insulin is being delivered in a more accurate and precise fashion.

Obviously, there will be less needle sticks. Whereas, you may have only one injection every three days with the pump, the same three-day period could require up to 18 needles if your method of choice is insulin shots.

Finally, if a patient is thoroughly trained on how to use an insulin pump and receives proper management, a more flexible lifestyle could be a wonderful side benefit.

A Possible downside to the use of an insulin pump is an increased risk of developing diabetic ketoacidosis or DKA. Diabetic ketoacidosis is a serious complication. When the body produces high levels of blood acids called key tones, a long list of symptoms can occur including excessive thirst, frequent urination, nausea, vomiting abdominal pain, weakness, a fruity scented breath and even a state of confusion. Monitoring blood glucose levels frequently and understanding what to do if this occurs is an important part of the training required before using an insulin pump.

Lastly, pump supplies are more expensive than injections and are not always easy to hide. The pump has to remain attached your body all day which could be an unwelcome reminder to you and others that you are indeed a diabetic.

Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut choice between insulin pumps and insulin injections. Weighing the overall cost, effectiveness and convenience will in the end be a personal choice.

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