Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas, a gland situated behind the stomach. This hormone helps the body utilize glucose for energy.
Insulin treatment helps in the management of diabetes. Diabetes is of two key types: type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes patients are unable to make insulin and hence have to inject insulin to keep their blood glucose levels under control. Type 2 diabetes patients can control their blood glucose levels with oral medication and lifestyle changes. However, if these treatments for Type2 diabetes are not effective, insulin may be required.
What You Should Know About Insulin
If your doctor is getting ready to start insulin treatment for your diabetes and you may be looking at diabetes supplies, here are some things you should know.
There are 4 Key Types of Insulin – The four types are
rapid-acting, short-acting, long-acting and intermediate-acting. The differences among the various types are based on the onset of work, time of peak action and duration of working.
Rapid-acting insulin works 15 minutes after injection (so must be injected 15 minutes before food), may peak to anywhere between half to one and a half hours later and lasts between 3 to 5 hours.
Short-acting insulin, alternatively known as bolus insulin, typically reaches the blood within 25 to 30 minutes following injection. The peak action may occur anywhere within 2 to 4 hours with the effect of the injection lasting a maximum of 8 hours.
Intermediate-acting insulin, otherwise known as basal insulin or background insulin, arrives in the blood 2 to 6 hours following injection. It peaks after 4 to 14 hours and remains in the blood for approximately 14 to 20 hours.
Long-acting insulin requires 6 to 14 hours for onset. The peak is negligible if any and occurs 10 to 16 hours following injection. As the words “long-lasting” indicate, the duration of working of this insulin is long and can go up to 24 hours or more.
Various Strengths of Insulin Available
Insulins are usually sold suspended or dissolved in liquids at various strengths. The most common strength found in the U.S. is U-100. This indicates that there are 100 units of insulin present per millilitre of fluid. Patients who are highly insulin-resistant may benefit from U-500 insulin.
Insulin was discovered in 1921.
The year 1921 is important for people with diabetes mellitus because it was in this year that Frederick Banting, a Canadian physician, and Charles H. Best, a medical student discovered insulin in the pancreas of dogs. Successful experimentation on a diabetic dog followed and by the end of the year, assisted by J.J.R Macleod, a Scottish physiologist and James B. Collip, a Canadian chemist, Best and Banting purified insulin. Insulin was utilized to treat a boy afflicted with severe diabetes and the treatment was effective.
Insulin should never be stored in direct sunlight or in the freezer
Extreme temperatures harm insulin so never store it at very hot or cold temperatures. A temperature below 25 degrees centigrade is preferable, ideally between 2 and 6 degrees centigrade. Insulin that has been out of the fridge for 4 weeks or more will have to be thrown away as it would have broken down.
Hypoglycemia may occur which can be treated with a fast-acting carbohydrate
Hypoglycemia is a common side effect of insulin-dependent patients. It is the result of glucose levels falling too low. Symptoms of hypoglycaemia include the inability to speak, confusion, seizures, pale skin, tiredness, sweating and seizures. Hence, insulin users are advised to keep with themselves a fast-acting carbohydrate of a minimum of 15 grams at all times. Some examples are ½ a glass of fruit juice or non-diet soda or 2 tablespoons of raisins.
Various factors are considered in recommending a specific type of insulin
To decide on the right kind of insulin for you, your doctor would consider factors such as your current medication, what your blood glucose value is, your lifestyle and overall health, how long you have had diabetes, and your insurance coverage.
Different modes for injection of insulin
Insulin can be injected with a syringe, insulin pump or insulin pen. There are different areas under the skin that insulin can be injected – thighs, upper arms, abdomen and buttocks. The location of injections should ideally be varied to avoid the thickening of your skin from frequent insulin exposure.
With the passage of time, your insulin requirements may be different and consequently, your doctor may modify your treatment plan. Whatever questions you have, feel free to convey them as well as any concerns you may have, to your doctor.
To read more on topics like this, check out the health category.