An insulin pump automatically delivers insulin 24 hours a day through a catheter inserted in the skin, according to the American Diabetes Association. This includes basal insulin delivered continuously to maintain glucose levels, bolus doses accounting for carbohydrates consumed at meals, and correction doses to counteract high blood glucose.
Each insulin pump gets programmed specifically for the user based on insulin needs, notes WebMD. The pump automatically delivers the basal amount on a 24-hour schedule based on those needs. This dose is designed to keep blood sugar levels within a target range. The insulin enters the body slowly, which is more like how the pancreas works.
A diabetic patient may need an extra or bolus dose of insulin at various times throughout the day, particularly when eating, says WebMD. The amount of insulin necessary in the bolus dose depends on the amount of carbohydrates consumed in the meal. Based on that calculation, the patient sets the amount of insulin and administers the bolus dose through the pump. Exercise can also affect the amount of insulin needed in a particular day.
A person with an insulin pump must check blood sugar levels four or more times a day to ensure those levels stay within the target range, explains WebMD. These readings allow the user to adjust the doses as necessary.