Managing diabetes

Managing diabetes

Insulin Pumps

What does an insulin pump do?

An insulin pump is a small, computerised device worn outside the body, that can easily be hidden under clothing - it looks a little like a pager.  The pump works like a healthy pancreas delivering tiny, regular doses of insulin via a flexible canula that is inserted under the skin. The canula is changed every three days.


How does it work?

An insulin pump is programmed to give a small dose of insulin continuously over 24 hours, depending on the individual's needs. An extra dose of insulin is automatically programmed when meals are eaten, or when blood glucose levels are too high. An insulin pump contains only rapid-acting insulin, no long-acting insulin is used.


New skills

You will have to learn new skills and consult your diabetes health care team when you first start using a pump - there are a few adjustments to make. Dosing is different on a pump, as the amounts of insulin are often lower than you used previously.


How long do you wear it?

The insulin pump must be worn all the time, but can be removed for short periods when showering, swimming or playing contact sports. It must not be removed for longer than two hours.


An insulin pump may be for you if you:

  • Have recurrent hypoglycaemic episodes or have lost the ability to sense a hypo
  • Want increased flexibility for insulin dosing
  • Have unpredictable blood glucose levels
  • Are planning to start a family and want better control before you fall pregnant
  • Are in a private health insurance scheme
  • Are under 18 years - you can apply for a government subsidy

More information