Insulin pumps

The most common way to take insulin therapy is via self-injection with an insulin pen or syringe. However, some people with diabetes choose to take their insulin through a device called an insulin pump instead. There are a number of potential reasons for this, for example:

A pump may fit their daily routine better

A pump may be easier than an injection if they are cared for by someone else

They may find a pump more discreet than an injection


The idea of an insulin pump is that instead of delivering separate injections throughout the day, it releases fast-acting (bolus) insulin gradually over the course of the day, just like your body would naturally. This means a pump replaces the need for injecting a long-acting insulin.

A pump is essentially made up of two parts:

A reservoir which holds the insulin;

A needle which sits under the skin. 

The two parts are connected by a small tube.

The pump is fitted onto a person’s lower abdomen or other site and held in place with an adhesive patch, or worn in a belt around the waist, armband, bra or other accessory. The average pump is about the size of a pack of cards. They have a digital display screen, and buttons for programming.

Pump graphic

There are lots of different types of pumps available with different features. For example, some of the more modern pumps are controlled wirelessly by a separate device, have touchscreens, or can connect wirelessly to a glucometer (the device that measures blood sugar levels). Your doctor or nurse will be able to recommend a model that’s best suited to your needs and lifestyle, and there’s some training involved in learning to use an insulin pump.

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