There will always be the debate of “pump or injection” when it comes to diabetics that require insulin. Each form of insulin delivery has its own specific benefits however it isn’t without draw backs. The deciding factor comes down to the patient’s individual lifestyle and needs. Let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons regarding the delivery of insulin via pump and injection.
In regards to insulin injections, less education and training is required compared to the use of insulin pumps. There is a large amount of work involved with the use of an insulin pump as it requires professional training as well as diligent diabetes management. Injection therapy is also relatively cheaper compared to pump therapy. For patients that are active and involved in sports which require a lot of contact such as basketball and football, injection therapy may be a better choice as pump therapy could cause pain when hit, or the pump could become dislodged due to the nature of the activity.
Negative factors associated with injection therapy include hypoglycemia (low blood glucose level) that is associated with different types of insulin. The frequent injection of insulin can also cause the body to naturally develop resistant areas preventing insulin to properly absorb.
The greatest benefit that comes from the use of an insulin pump is better management of blood glucose levels as the pump delivers insulin throughout the day preventing high and low swings in blood glucose levels. Compared to injection therapy that may consist of 15 or more injections in a three day period, pump therapy only requires one injection for connecting the pump every three days. There has also been a positive relationship with the use of insulin pumps and an improvement of A1C.
Although pump therapy offers many benefits such as better management of diabetes as well as controlling swings in blood glucose, there are disadvantages to using a pump. The use of pump therapy has been shown to cause weight gain. In the instance that the catheter connecting the pump becomes dislodged, diabetic ketoacidosis can occur because there is no delivery of insulin to the body. Pump therapy is also expensive and it can be bothersome to have a pump attached all the time; it can also be difficult to get a pump as certain criteria need to be met. Also because pumps only use fast acting or rapid acting insulin, blood glucose levels need to be checked more frequently, causing heavy dependence on the pump to continue to function.
Although there are benefits and negative aspects of both injection and pump therapy, it really does come down to personal choice and preference. Each person is different and will require a different form of treatment for their specific needs. For instance if diabetes management is under control with a low A1C, a pump may not be the right choice however if a patient who is very sensitive or resistant to insulin is unable to control their blood glucose via injection, then a pump may be a better fit.