Insulin, which is a hormone produced by the pancreas, regulates metabolism and enables energy generation. When there is an anomaly in the natural insulin functioning of the body, diabetes results; insulin can no longer control the amount of sugar (glucose) in blood naturally. It is then when insulin hormone is used as a medication to treat diabetes.
Guidelines to Use of Insulin for Treating Diabetes
People having type 1 diabetes can implement insulin therapy to replace the insulin which their bodies are unable to produce. Type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes can also, sometimes, be treated with insulin therapy. Insulin therapy can be administered when other therapies cannot keep blood glucose levels within control. Insulin therapy can also aid prevention of complications arising out of diabetes mainly by controlling blood glucose levels.
Insulin is injected either under the skin (subcutaneously) or into the vein (intravenously) for treating diabetes. Intravenous insulin is more rapidly absorbed than insulin given directly under the skin. But this type of administration should be done under expert/hospital supervision. Insulin pumps may also be used
Insulin is injected using a needle and syringe, a cartridge system, or pen systems. The choice of place where insulin should be injected can determine its functioning and effectiveness for the body. For instance, the abdomen provides the fastest rate of absorption. The arms, thighs and buttocks follow.
Choose a sight for injection which is appropriate for you after consulting your doctor and (try to) consistently inject insulin at the same general site. This aids insulin absorption is a constant manner. Alternating the location of the injection spot (but within a general area) helps prevent breakdown of fat tissue under the skin (lipoatrophy).
Types of Insulin
Insulin used to treat diabetes is of different types. The insulin is categorized based upon how fast it starts working, when it reaches “peak” level of action (indicating the highest concentration of insulin in blood), and how long effects last.
The Rapid-acting insulin begins functioning within a few minutes of administration and lasts for a couple of hours. The Regular- or short-acting insulin takes about half an hour to work and lasts for 3 to 6 hours. The Intermediate-acting insulin begins working anywhere between 2 to 4 hours and its effects can last longer, for up to 18 hours. The Long-acting insulin, which takes 6 to 10 hours to enter bloodstream, can keep working for a day.
You can choose among syringes, injection pens and insulin pumps. For those averse to pricking skin regularly, a continuous infusion of insulin through a catheter can serve. Premixed insulin is also available to ease insulin administration, especially for those who have poor eyesight or dexterity. You may need multiple types of insulin. There are several factors which determine the type of insulin which might be best for you. These include your lifestyle, age, willingness to take multiple injections each day, body’s response to insulin and blood sugar target. It is crucial to use the right type of insulin to have effective blood glucose control.
You should space your insulin doses in a day to keep your blood sugar levels within the normal range regardless of your eating habits and activity parameters. If insulin alone cannot control blood glucose, you may need to complement it with a drug. This drug may attune to the hormone amylin which is generally deficient in diabetics.
Dose and Timing of Insulin
The initial dose of insulin is arrived at by assessing your weight and sensitivity to insulin. When you take insulin under the skin (injection), it is typically administered in a way that two-thirds of the cumulative daily dose is given in the morning and the remaining (one-third) dose is given in the evening.
Your doctor will tell you when to take insulin. Follow the guidelines strictly according to his/her advice. Timing largely depends upon the type of insulin you are taking. Here are two instances. When administering rapid-acting insulin, you can administer it 10 minutes before eating meal, or even with your meal. When administering regular- or intermediate-acting insulin, the guideline is to take it about one half-hour before meals, or at bedtime. This aids simultaneous food absorption and insulin functioning avoiding low blood sugar reactions.
It is suggestive that if the temperature is comfortable for you, the insulin can be safe for administration. You need not essentially refrigerate vials of insulin which are being used. But the extra ones should be stored in the refrigerator. Do not freeze it or keep it under direct sunlight. You can keep the insulin out of the refrigerator the night before you wish to use your new bottle.
This allows it to come to room temperature. Keep two bottles of each type of your insulin ready. You may store the bottle that you are using at room temperature (around 80 F but not more than that) for a month (30 days). Keep it in a place which neither too hot nor too cold.
Rapid-acting insulin, short-acting insulin, and some long-acting insulin should look clear. The other types of insulin should look cloudy but free of clumps. Always check an insulin vial before using it. When carrying insulin, be cautious not to shake it as it can create air bubbles and affect the amount of insulin taken for an injection. Insulin pens have storage instructions which should be adhered to.
Considerations for Insulin Use in Diabetes
When insulin is used to treat diabetes, it can produce side effects like weight gain. If you increase the number of calories intake than needed to maintain a healthy weight, your cells get more glucose than they actually need. Unused glucose accumulates as fat. Monitoring weight is a significant component of diabetes management. Other side effects of insulin include low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), rash at injection area or hypertrophy (enlargement of the area receiving too many insulin injections).
Although insulin therapy can be demanding, it should not be scary. You can incorporate insulin comfortably in your lifestyle by choosing a program which suits your need best. Insulin not only provides short term treatment for diabetes but also aids prevention of long term complications of diabetes ensuring a healthy life. Always consult your doctor before starting an insulin program.