Patient Guide to Insulin

How Do I Use an Insulin Pump?

The Key to Using an Insulin Pump Successfully, Types of Pumps, Advantages and Disadvantages

One of the keys to using a pump successfully is to dose insulin appropriately based on your personalized needs. Your diabetes care team plays a big role in educating you so that you feel knowledgeable and comfortable in managing your own insulin pump therapy. Prior to starting insulin pump therapy, your diabetes care team will:

  • teach you how to program the pump to provide both continuous insulin (basal insulin) 24 hours a day and mealtime doses (bolus insulin).
  • help you identify how many basal rates setting you will need, as well as what type of mealtime bolus will be the best for you based on the type of meals you eat. It may be best to give bolus insulin about 15 minutes before you eat to help prevent high blood sugar levels after you eat.
  • show you how to count carbohydrates and advise you on the ideal quantity of carbohydrates you should eat.
  • teach you how to prevent low blood glucose when using a pump and exercising.
  • help you figure out the different insulin doses you may need for sick days.

insulin pumpsMiniMed 530G with EnliteAll of these factors will help determine how much insulin you need to take.

Your diabetes team will also teach you how troubleshoot unexplained high blood glucose levels, as well as monitor for insulin pump delivery interruption and avoidance of diabetes ketoacidosis.

Also, take the time to read the user guide that comes with your device. Each device contains important info that pertains to the specific brand and model pump.

Below is an overview of types of pumps, with links to the user guides and other educational tools from pump manufacturers:

Table. User Guides and Educational Materials for Insulin Pumps and Insulin Patch Pumps


Pump Model

User Guide and Educational Materials

Traditional Insulin Pumps

Animas Corporation

  • OneTouch Ping
  • Vibe



  • MiniMed 530G with Enlite, 551/751
  • MiniMed Paradigm 522/722, 515/715, and 512/712
  • Paradigm Revel



  • ACCU-CHECK Spirit and  Spirit Combo

Tandem Diabetes Care

  • t:slim
  • t:flex

Patch Pumps

Insulet Corp

  • Omnipod





How Do I Insert an Infusion Set?

In general, the infusion set of traditional insulin pumps should be changed every two to three days. But make sure to check the insertion site at least twice a day to make sure that there are no signs of infection, and that the tubing isn’t bent or doesn’t have air bubbles in it. If you see signs of infection at the insertion site, such as redness, change the infusion set and call your healthcare provider immediately.

The most common place to insert an infusion set is on the stomach area (abdomen). Other common areas include the buttock, upper leg, or back of the upper arm. Rotate the insertion site by moving at least two inches from the last site to help prevent the likelihood of developing hard lumps or fatty deposits under your skin.

Before changing your infusion set, make sure to wash and dry your hands and clean the area on the skin where you are going to insert the set. Keep the insertion site clean shaven and clean the site with an alcohol swab. Place the new set on a clean surface while you are preparing to place it.

Check with your health care provider and infusion set manufacturer on the exact instructions for changing your set. Manufacturers have online videos and user guides to help you.

Table. User Guides and Educational Materials for Insertion Sets


Insertion Set

User Guide and Educational Materials

Animas Corporation

  • inset
  • inset 30


Insulet Corp

  • Omnipod




  • Medtronic mio
  • Polyfin/Polyfin QR
  • Medtronic Quick-set
  • Medtronic Silhouette
  • Paradigm Sof-set
  • Medtronic Sure-T


  • Rapid-D
  • Tender
  • Ultraflex

Tandem Diabetes Care

  • cleo90
  • comfort
  • contact detach
  • t:set


  • comfort
  • quick-set
  • inset/inset II
  • inset 30
  • contact
  • insuflon


Some infusion sets have an insertion device, which is a push-button tool that inserts the set for you. Some people prefer to insert the infusion set by hand.

Antiseptic solutions and skin-prep wipes are available to purchase online to prepare the skin and help tape stick better.  In addition, stronger adhesive liquids or wipes (such as Mastisol or Skin tac), and tape (such as Hy-Tape, IV3000, Micropore, Polyskin, Tegaderm, and Transpore) are available to keep the infusion set in place. Adhesive removers are also available.

Advantages/Disadvantages of Insulin Pumps

Advantages of insulin pumps include:

  • improvement of blood sugar levels
  • reduced risk for low blood sugar episodes (hypoglycemia)
  • better management of the “dawn phenomenon,” which is an early-morning increase in insulin resistance
  • flexible meal schedule
  • flexible lifestyle
  • the elimination of multiple daily injections
  • more precise insulin doses
  • better blood sugar control after exercising.

Disadvantages of insulin pumps include:

  • greater cost over insulin pens and pumps (depends on your insurance)
  • need for education and training on how to use a pump
  • learning curve needed to find right doses of basal and bolus insulin
  • pump must be worn continuously, including when sleeping
  • risk of skin infections at the infusion site
  • potential risk for diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) if there is interruption of insulin infusion for several hours.
Continue Reading
Insulin Pump Overview

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