Air bubbles? Help?

Hi Everyone,

I’m hoping you can help me out, I am new to the pump (just a week now) and it has been really great except for one thing in particular. I have noticed huge air bubbles in the line 3 times now and as you can imagine this sent my blood sugars soaring before I realized the issue. The first time I think it was due to cold insulin (which now I am told to just keep out at room temp. for up to 30 days) btw, is this ok to do?? So I thought I had the bubbles figured out until after showering I reattached and realized an hour later my sugars had went up and AGAIN I had a large air bubble. I believe this was from taking it off to shower and then putting it back on. I let the line hang straight down and driping while I showered but it still had the bubble?

Any ideas why this keeps happening and what I can do to prevent this. I guess I will just have to prime it whenever I disconnect for now. Is this what you do? Please let me know if I am missing something, those air bubbles sure are an issue!

Thanks for any insight!

I keep my insulin refrigerated until I am ready to fill the reservoir. As long as you don’t freeze it, fridge temp is what you should do with it.

As for the bubbles, I remember the nurse that trained me first saying “champagne-sized bubbles are OK”. So I flip my finger against the reservoir as much as I need to until all I can see are bubbles that size.

The other thing I can think of is the priming. Make sure you let a good few drops come out of the needled in the infusion set (better to throw away some insulin than to get air in your belly).

First of all, it is totally fine to keep insulin at room temp (but not a hot room temp) for 30 days, that’s the way we do it.

Now about the bubbles … how are you filling the cartridge? The best way we’ve found to get rid of bubbles is to tap on the side of the cartridge with a pen. Flicking it with a finger doesn’t work nearly as well as a pen does, but will do in a pinch. If you really whack the heck out of the cartridge after it is filled then you should see a bunch of bubbles dislodged and float to the top. Keep tapping and angle the bubbles to the top of the cartridge so you can push them out. Some people have talked about filling their cartridge about 30-40 minutes before changing it out to let the air bubbles settle so they can be pushed out, but I have not done this myself.

Are you a pretty active person? I know that people who are active, running/jumping a lot and stuff, tend to get bubbles much faster than folks who are less active. There really isn’t much you can do about this except watch for the bubbles and prime them when they get close to the end of the tubing.

Good luck pumping! I really hope you like it!

i keep my insulin at room temp - sometimes more than 30 days but less than 60 - i have not had any issues with it.

Also i have not noticed that reattaching after a shower (or any other reason) to cause a BS spike for me. I would try whacking the heck out of the reservoir and then making sure you push those bubbles out. When adding air into the insulin bottle it is best to not push the air into the insulin - so keep the bottle right-side-up.

Early on, when i was a new pumper, i had similar bubble issues too.

You can also try adjusting the way you wear the pump. I try to keep my pump vertical with the tubing down toward the ground. This seems to force the air up near the plunger part of the reservoir rather than where the tubing meets the reservoir. Unfortunately, the clips that came with my pump down seem to allow this. I bought a wraparound leather case instead.

I also use a pen to whack the side of the reservoir to dislodge any bubbles and prime several units more than I probably need to. Air is my enemy when it comes to pumping. A sharpie marker works GREAT!

oh, not only do I leave my insulin out for 30 days, I also pre-fill my reservoirs and keep them in my bag. Makes changing a site half as annoying. I know there are some people that are against pre-filling, and some that swear by it… so far, I have had pretty good results.

Thankks everyone so far for the advice. I will definitley try the pen but I don’t think this is where the issue is. I have been able to do ok getting the bubbles out when I fill the cartridge. It’s the next day they seem to show up. I do wear my pump on the treadmill when I do a fast wal for an hour. Maybe this has something to do with it?? I really don’t want to take it off though…

I just didn’t think air could get into it after it was filled. I was thinking maybe it happens when I disconnect for a shower. Does everyone prime after taking it off?

I see my diabetic educator today so I will see what she says… Thanks again for the good advice!

Having JUST trained – I’ve been pumping for about an hour now – on the same pump, my DE pointed out that sometimes baby bubbles lurk at the base of the syringe. She made note that cold insulin has higher bubbling tendencies; maybe if it’s cold initially affects it the remainder of the time? Another tip she gave me to avoid bubbles was keeping the end of the tubing higher than the pump itself.

You can try unplugging yourself during that hour: an hour off the pump should be fine.

Let us know what else you learn from your D educator.

hi sama!
i get bubbles from time to time, and i do think that it may partially be connected to activity, like running, etc. i keep my insulin at room temperature too, and have had much better luck with less air bubbles since doing that. i usually scan my tubing about once a day for bubbles that are an inch or longer… when i do notice a big air bubble like that, i usually disconnect and do a manual bolus to push the bubble through. that usually ends the problem, because then i reconnect and there are no more bubbles!
i agree that you should prime more units than you need to to make sure all bubbles are kind of pushed through. i do think that as you get more used to the pump, it’s easier to get bubbles out of the cartidge. and i’m going to start trying the pen-- what a great suggestion!
i’ll be interested to hear what your educator has to say about bubbles.

My son has been pumping for close to 3 years and I feel I waste too much insulin when I prime in order to get rid of the bubbles. I hit the reservoir and get lots of bubbles- i use room temp insulin since I go through a bottle a week. 1 bottles barely lasts him 1 week especially when I prime and use so much insulin to get rid of the bubbles!! I find it very frustrating. i wish the various pump companies would send prefilled cartridges. i am sure factory filled would be better than what i do. nancy

I agree with the pen method, it seems to focus the energy and pop a few of the unnoticeable bubbles out. Good question though, as a new pumper I’ve had the question myself. It seems random, I do everything the same way and yet sometimes I just seem to get a bad reservoir. Ahh, the life of pumping!

Awesome, I’ve tried Laura’s methos as well with great success. Just remember if you do this that it will effect you next bolus if you use a bolus wizard type program. It will say you have active insulin in your system even though you were simply purging the line. :slight_smile: