Updated 02 February 2017

Good news for diabetics

A revolutionary new therapy has been introduced that is set to enhance the everyday lives of diabetics.


An insulin pump with continuous glucose readings and trend graphs has been introduced and is endorsed by most comprehensive medical aids.

The treatment assists diabetics to make self-management decisions on improving their glucose control after confirming readings done by means of a fingerstick measurement. By doing this, diabetics are able to safely maintain their glucose levels and delay, or even prevent diabetes-related conditions such as coma, blindness, kidney failure, amputation, impotence and heart disease.

How does it work?

Diabetes pump treatment consists of an external insulin pump that constantly monitors glucose levels. A tiny electrode sensor, which is inserted under the skin using an insertion device, takes as many as 288 daily glucose readings per day – providing nearly 100 times more information than three daily fingerstick readings (the conventional method which only gives glucose measurements at a single moment in time).

The electrode measures glucose levels every few minutes in the interstitial fluid found between the body's cells, as well as calculating the amount of insulin the body requires. The device also sends out alerts if glucose levels become too high or too low.

More about diabetes treatment

Just under a million South Africans are affected by type 1 diabetes. The conventional treatment for type 1 diabetes is a strict routine that includes diet, exercise and frequent daily insulin injections to regulate blood sugar levels.

Though effective, the use of insulin injections has its drawbacks. The process is not difficult, although insulin has to be refrigerated, which means that going out often takes a lot of planning and necessitates the carrying of an insulated container.

With conventional insulin therapy, extreme glucose fluctuations may lead to frequent hospitalisation.

Furthermore, calculating the exact intake of insulin doses can be difficult, especially for children. Many are also squeamish about injecting themselves.

A better treatment?

Insulin pump therapy solves many of the problems associated with conventional insulin therapy. According to Medtronic, a global leader in medical technology, and manufacturers of the insulin pumps, many diabetics consider insulin pump therapy far more convenient, accurate and efficient in managing their diabetes.

Also, diabetics are able to adjust the pump to suit their body's needs, such as during sport or activities that require a lot of energy. The pump tracks the amount of insulin already in the body, thus preventing possible overdose.

Because of this, a hypoglycaemic phase can very often effectively be avoided, with some patients experiencing no hypoglycaemia at all after they have begun treatment.

Another feature of the new treatment is that meal options and eating times become more flexible. However, diabetics are still advised to stick to particular diets, and to eat frequent smaller meals every day. - (Health24, December 2006)

Based on a press release issued by Medtronic. For more information, visit

For more information on care and support of diabetes visit Diabetes South Africa or phone them on 011 886 3721/3765.


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Dr. May currently works as a fulltime endocrinologist and has been in private practice since 2004. He has a variety of interests, predominantly obesity and diabetes, but also sees patients with osteoporosis, thyroid disorders, men's health disorders, pituitary and adrenal disorders, polycystic ovaries, and disorders of growth. He is a leading member of several obesity and diabetes societies and runs a trial centre for new drugs.

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