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My Go-To Insulin Pump Feature: Temp Basal

By Naomi Kingery

Social Community Manager

Posted:  5/9/2013 3:00 PM


One of my favorite things about my insulin pump (other than being pink, of course) is that I can use as few or as many of the advanced features during different phases of my life as I want. After over a decade on my pump, I’ve pretty much used it all, but I have a few “go-to” features that I use the most and one is the temporary basal rate (or “temp basal”).

As a reminder, “basal insulin” is the background insulin needed throughout the day to maintain your blood glucose and accounts for about half of your daily insulin requirements. There are a few key terms related to basal rates which include “temp basal” “max basal” and “basal patterns,” all of which you can learn more about here.

A temporary basal rate allows you to change the amount of background insulin you are taking for a set period of time (30 minutes to 24 hours). So for the life events that don’t seem to take long enough to actually change your pump settings like your day to day basal rates, this can really come in handy when you need to take more or less insulin than you usually do. 

You can set the temp basal as a type: either a specific amount of units of insulin, or a percentage of your current basal rate. I use the percentage setting as I find that the easiest to comprehend, especially if I can’t recall all of my current pump settings off the top of my head.

The times that I find that I use this feature the most are during exercise, during times of sickness or stress, and any time I feel that my normal basal rates aren’t meeting my true needs for the day based on the numbers on the screen of my glucose meter.

Tip: If you want to suspend your pump for a specific time (like during a low, or if you know you don’t need insulin for a set amount of time but don’t actually need to take your pump off) then you can set the temp basal rate at 0% and keep wearing your pump. This will help you not forget to resume your pump out of suspend, and you will have the desired outcome for that period of time which is no insulin.

To learn more, check out the video below. For the button pushing steps and the best way to use this feature in your life, make sure to talk to your healthcare team or visit our website.

Let me know, do you use the temp basal feature? If so, when do you find that you use it the most often?


- Medtronic Diabetes insulin infusion pumps, continuous glucose monitoring systems and associated components are limited to sale by or on the order of a physician and should only be used under the direction of a healthcare professional familiar with the risks associated with the use of these systems. 
- Successful operation of the insulin infusion pumps and/or continuous glucose monitoring systems requires adequate vision and hearing to recognize alerts and alarms. 

Medtronic Diabetes Insulin Infusion Pumps
- Insulin pump therapy is not recommended for individuals who are unable or unwilling to perform a minimum of four blood glucose tests per day. 
- Insulin pumps use rapid-acting insulin. If your insulin delivery is interrupted for any reason, you must be prepared to replace the missed insulin immediately. 

Medtronic Diabetes Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) Systems
- The information provided by CGM systems is intended to supplement, not replace, blood glucose information obtained using a home glucose meter. A confirmatory fingerstick is required prior to treatment. 
- Insertion of a glucose sensor may cause bleeding or irritation at the insertion site. Consult a physician immediately if you experience significant pain or if you suspect that the site is infected.

For more information, please visit:


Dianne Smyth

Posted on Thu May 09 22:13:21 GMT 2013

Thank you for an interesting article. I use the temp basal a lot, especially when sitting in the car or a meeting as these times my bsl will rise due to the inactivity. I learnt a few more tips from you. Thanks!

Joyce Bannerman

Posted on Sat May 11 02:48:20 GMT 2013

I use temp basal during my daily workout to prevent or limit severe hypoglycemia. What a great tool!

Gina Lyon

Posted on Sat May 11 04:46:53 GMT 2013

I use this feature sometimes before bed if my sugar is in a "lower-normal" range by reducing the bsl rate percentage, so that it won't dip too low during the night.


Posted on Sun May 12 03:53:32 GMT 2013

I use my temp basal for some usual things like exercise, and occasionally for a sick day (but really, those are not very predictable.) But when it is invaluable for me is when I need to take a course of prednisone for my asthma. Over time I have learned how much to increase it and at what time of day. Because one needs to taper gradually off prednisone, I have a protocol that works for each decreasing dose. It would be extremely difficult without it. I have been thinking of setting up an alternate basal pattern for this purpose but I would need a different one for each level as I am decreasing the dose, so I don't know if it would be much less trouble.


Posted on Tue May 14 23:56:19 GMT 2013

Thanks for your feedback on when this feature has helped each of you! It's always interesting to learn about how different features can work for different types of life experiences and I'm glad that you've found that the temp basal has been one of your favorites too!

Lisa DiStefano Hannigan

Posted on Thu May 23 13:30:09 GMT 2013

I have never been able to figure out how to do it by percentage. First I hit basal, then set/edit temp basal, then for how long, then it says u/h (units per hour). Where is the part that says percentage versus how many units for the length of time I set it. How do I convert it to percentage versus number of units? I have a colonoscopy coming up and I need this ASAP. Thank you!!! Please email me.


Posted on Thu May 23 17:19:25 GMT 2013

Thanks for reaching out Lisa! We’ll have someone reach out to you shortly to walk you through how to set the temp basal by percentage.


Posted on Tue Apr 22 17:10:08 GMT 2014

I am confused on the temp basal. How do you know if you are doing a percentage increase or decrease in basal?


Posted on Wed Apr 23 16:12:52 GMT 2014

That’s a great question, Dawn! I will have a member of my team reach out to you to try and help. In the meantime, you may find this website helpful: Please let me know if you have any other questions.

Darlene Lyons

Posted on Mon Jun 09 21:38:51 GMT 2014

How far in advance do you need to set a temp. basal ? For example, normally after my supper meal I wait about an hour, then I like to walk for about 45 minutes. I am on the pump for my 3rd week and have not resumed my walking because of not fully understand about the basal rate change I could make. Can I set a temp. basal now and then walk in about 45 minutes?


Posted on Mon Jun 09 22:41:00 GMT 2014

That’s a great question, Darlene. The amount of basal insulin your pump delivers at different times of the day is determined by your basal rates. Although your healthcare team will be the ones to help determine your basal rates, I will have a member of my team connect with you to discuss the temp basal feature and to help answer any other questions you may have. In the meantime, you may find this blog on Tackling the Unexpected helpful:

bobbie meacham

Posted on Thu Jun 12 17:07:05 GMT 2014

Came down with Bells Palsy. GP prescribed Prednasone, and said, "You know that this will make your glucose increase". I had heard that, so I replied,"Sure". I was already dealing with higher than normal Test numbers, due to stress of pain. Little did I know that I would have to double boluses, as well as increase Temp Basal to 180%. So thankful for the Temp Basal Rate function. Have it under control, I think. Wouldn't be such a problem, but the Prednisone makes me hungry!!!


Posted on Fri Jun 13 01:48:42 GMT 2014

Thanks for sharing your story with us, Bobbie. So glad to hear you’re doing well on your pump!

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