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Convenient Care: The Insulin Pump

Insulin pumps deliver a steady stream of insulin, which most closely mimics a natural state, experts say.

By Neil Osterweil
WebMD Feature

Reviewed By Charlotte Grayson

There's no substitute for the body's own blood sugar control mechanism, but insulin pumps may be the next best thing, say diabetes experts.

An insulin pump is a compact, pager-sized, computerized device that can be worn on a belt. It is connected to the body via a flexible plastic tube through which insulin is delivered. The pump releases insulin in a steady, continuous background or "basal" dose, but also allows the wearer to add an additional dose, or "bolus" of insulin when needed, such as before a meal or snack.

"It provides more stable insulin deliveries and smoothes out glucose fluctuation compared with injections," explains Howard A. Wolpert, MD, senior physician and director of the insulin pump program at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, in an interview with WebMD. "I think the advantage from a lifestyle standpoint is what attracts many people, because it does allow people much more flexibility in terms of eating times."


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