Monday, November 22, 2010

Bubble Trouble?

When my boys first started pumping, we were obsessed with bubbles. OBSESSED. We constantly checked the line and more often than not, there would be an epic airline within the tubing. We would prime it out, and BAM another huge bubble would be just waiting to totally mess with the boys blood sugars.

We spoke to our endo many many times about it. She was stumped. She didn’t think it should have been as big a problem as it was. But…it was.

Those bubbles made our life miserable…especially our little diabetic boy who had to deal with the wonky numbers and the constant set changes.

We finally resorted to reading the pump manual from beginning to end. Step by step we followed the instructions. We finally found the problem. It seemed like such a little step, but it made ALL the difference in the world…

Since then, we have watched many videos of people doing set changes and noticed that many miss this simple step too. If you miss this step, try giving it a shot. If you already do this step…my apologies for dragging this all out. :) This step is important for Medronic pumps as well as Animas. Actually, it is even MORE important with the Animas, because of its reservoir design.

Here you go:

After you fill the reservoir with insulin…usually people take off the plunger and then screw on the cap that is attached to the tubing.

Don’t do this. Leave the plunger on and screw on the cap. Then flick the bottle and push the plunger up ever so slightly to get rid of the extra bubbles and get the insulin started up into the tubing. Just couple inches of insulin in the tubing will do. THEN take off the plunger and continue with your other steps.

Easy, right?

Makes a HUGE difference. We have never had bubble problems after doing this step. In fact, I can’t remember the last time we even looked at the boys tubing for bubbles.

I also know…that cold insulin makes more bubbles too. We always use room temperature insulin inside pumps. Besides the fact that injecting cold insulin hurts like a mother…it also is prone to bubbles. Some people take this as an old wives tale, but following this rule has never steered us wrong.

A couple ever so little, ever so important tips from Our Diabetic Life to yours.


  1. We've done this after seeing the NO DELIVERY message and it solved the problem then too!

  2. hmm.. We don't ususally have a huge bubble problem. but will have to give it a shot.

    Oh yhe things you can learn when you read directions... who'd a thunk?!?

  3. Love it! We have really never had problems with bubbles - but that is so simple to do that I will definitely start! Thanks Meri!

  4. Thanks Meri, will give this one a try! Our problem now is avoiding frozen tubing - minus degrees and thin plastic tubing full of Insulin don't go together too well!!

  5. awesome tip! We never had bubble issues with animas but this is a great preventative tip thanks !!

  6. Dear Meri,

    Thank you so much for writing about this. After months of successful pumping we have just had our share of nasty "Bubble Trouble". We'll try this advice and pass it on to a few others we know, also using the Ping, in the same boat. Technology is great - when it works!

    You are the best!!


  7. We're usually fine for the first 24hrs, then after a vigorous day of jumping and tumbling I'll see a bubble, and darn thing is usually in the section between the steel set and the anchor part (not sure what the real names are, but that's what we call it). So, we have to do a new set or that 1/2 inch of air will really cause a full day of no insulin trouble!
    Did you ever notice bubbles caused by being so active? Our medtronic rep said it's more common in younger kids because of the way that they are constantly moving than older kiddos.

  8. I'll remember this once we finally get our boy pumping. :)

  9. Thanks Meri! Definitely going to give this a try. We don't have so many bubble troubles in Singapore as long as I remember to warm up the insulin before filling the reservoir, but when we go abroad it's definitely a problem. It was a nightmare in the UK this summer! Great tip :) xoxo

  10. I'm so happy you brought this to light!

    This is how we do site changes, and I assumed it's how everyone else does them too....we never have bubble trouble...

    Then I realized that I learned this skill in nursing school when priming IV's. This isn't something the pump people ever told me!!!!!

    Great job, Meri!

  11. Great advice Meri! We don't do this but we haven't had much bubble trouble either. That said, I am going to do your way/the correct way so we don't have to worry about it :)

  12. GREAT ADVICE from ONE FANTASTIC D'Mama!!! Meri, I haven't had many bubble troubles, but am anxious to try this tip and see if what bubble troubles I do have...will disappear. I am so excited!

  13. hahaha - reading the directions - who does that? Such a great idea! :)

    We use room-temp insulin in the pod too. :)

  14. What procedure do you follow when you see bubbles after doing a site change? Do you disconnect and what do you do with the reservoir?

    Thank you :)

  15. Also do you find more trouble with bubbles with an insulin bottle which has little insulin in it - for example 1/4-1/3 of the bottle left?

    Thank you :)

  16. Hi Joannna!

    When there are bubbles in the tubing after all is said and done, we disconnect the pump from our boy and go to fixed prime. We then put in 10 units or so, enough to move the bubble comepletely out of the tubing. Then we reconnect the tubing to our child. Doing this in "Fixed Prime" makes it so it doesn't show this amount of insulin with the "Insulin On Board." (When you are finished with this step, make sure to return the fixed prime to the original amount so you don't over bolus when you do your next site change!)

    We haven't personally seen more bubble trouble with viles of insulin that are 1/3 or 1/4 full.

    Hope this helps! Take care!


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