*Disclaimer: All content and information in this blog is for informational and educational purposes only.
In recent years, the field of diabetes technology has experienced significant growth, particularly in the realm of automated insulin delivery systems for individuals requiring intensive insulin therapy. These advances have welcomed an era of insulin delivery through automated features that adapt to changes in blood sugar levels which closely mimics the natural function of the pancreas. The benefits of these systems include a decrease frequency and severity of hypoglycemia, reduce decision making fatigue, and stabilize overnight blood sugars. However, it is important that users that are interested in automated technology establish appropriate expectations so that they understand the advantages and limitations of automated insulin pumps.
While these devices show promise in easing the daily burden of diabetes care, they still require user input to maximize their performance. People with diabetes who are considering an automated system should not only understand its potential limitations, but also have the ability to troubleshoot the system independently in case of a pump malfunction. Despite the significant progress made in diabetes technology, this blog post will highlight the areas that individuals should not overlook when transitioning to an automated insulin delivery system.
Review Basal and Bolus Insulin Basals
It is crucial to evaluate your current basal and bolus insulin rates before transitioning to an automated insulin pump. These rates form the foundations of your diabetes management and establish the parameters for the automated delivery algorithm. Although an automated insulin pump can adjust your baseline rate based on continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) readings, it is still important to fine-tune your baseline rates in case of a pump malfunction. Additionally, it can also reduce the algorithm’s workload by minimizing the need for constant adjustments to maintain stable blood sugar levels. We discuss how to successfully master your basal insulin rates here and steps to lower your A1C here.
Accurate Carbohydrate Counting
Although automated insulin delivery systems have numerous health benefits, they currently lack the ability to detect meals, requiring users to manually bolus for meals that contain carbohydrates. Inaccurate carbohydrate counting during mealtimes can mislead users into believing that the insulin pump will be able to regulate their blood sugar levels. However, this can result in rapid spikes and prolonged elevated blood sugar levels.
To fully optimize an automated delivery system, it is important for users to continue practicing accurate carbohydrate counting. One approach to developing and maintaining these skills is to conduct periodic check-ins to assess the accuracy of carbohydrate counting. This might look like portioning a cup of rice with a measuring cup, using a food scale to measure a serving of potato chips, or looking up the nutrition information on MyFitnessPal. By doing these periodic check-ins, users can lessen the burden of constantly weighing and measuring foods throughout the day while still prioritizing the importance of precise carbohydrate counting.
Assess Self-Care Behaviors
Prior to switching to an automated insulin pump, it is important for users to assess their behaviors surrounding insulin dosing to ensure that they aren’t contradicting the pump’s actions.
One area that requires self-assessment is the emotions that drive insulin dosing decision-making. It is crucial to be aware of the emotions that arise when experiencing high or low blood sugar levels and what your typical response may entail. For example, when experiencing high blood sugar, you may become frustrated, annoyed or overwhelmed which could result in rage bolusing, or taking a large bolus of insulin to correct elevated blood sugar levels, which can be very dangerous. But when using an automated insulin system, these devices may have already delivered an increased basal rate or delivered an automatic correction bolus for that high blood sugar reading already…which can be very dangerous!
To prevent such behaviors from interfering with the automated pump’s function, users need to assess their emotions and reactions during these experiences and revisit the automatic functions of their specific insulin pump. This includes how users treat high or low blood sugars, what emotions are present during those experiences, and whether these actions align with the pump’s recommendations. By doing so, users can develop a greater sense of self-awareness and neutrality towards blood sugar levels. This way, users can reduce their emotional responses and trust that the automated pump will do its job.
Automated delivery systems have brought significant advancements in diabetes technology, allowing for more stable blood sugar levels and reduced hypoglycemic events. However, to fully utilize this technology, users must establish appropriate expectations and acknowledge their limitations since they still require user input to optimize their performance. It is crucial for users to evaluate their basal and bolus insulin rates, practice accurate carbohydrate counting and assess their self-care behaviors before transitioning to an automated insulin pump. By taking these steps, users can maximize the benefits of this technology. For more information about transitioning to an automated insulin pump, listen to Keeping it 100 Radio: Uncensored Diabetes Conversations- Episode 82: 3 Things To Do BEFORE Going on An Automated Insulin Pump. Available now on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.