Diabetes Treatment: Insulin
Insulin is a hormone that is used in the diabetes treatment of type 1 diabetes and some people with type 2 and gestational diabetes. People with type 1 diabetes require insulin injections because the beta cells of their pancreas are no longer manufacturing sufficient amounts of insulin to control their blood sugar levels. In diabetes treatment, insulin allows glucose to leave the bloodstream and enter the cells of the body, where it’s used for energy.
How much insulin you need and when you take it depends on several factors—the type of insulin your doctor has prescribed, your nutrition and exercise habits, other co-existing medical conditions and medications you may be taking for them, and how much insulin (if any) your pancreas is still producing. These are all important factors to consider in diabetes treatment with insulin.
Insulin Needs and Honeymoons
At first diagnosis, many people experience what is known as “the honeymoon phase.” This is a period of time after blood glucose levels have been brought under control where insulin needs greatly diminish. The length of a honeymoon period is variable (days, weeks, months, and rarely—years), and not everyone has one. As a general rule, the younger the patient at diagnosis and treatment process of diabetes, the shorter the “honeymoon.”
During the honeymoon period, the beta cells of the pancreas recover temporarily and start producing some insulin again. As a result, insulin doses are decreased and some patients may be able to stop taking insulin entirely for a time. However, it’s important to note that the honeymoon phase is a temporary phenomenon and insulin requirements will eventually rise again. Again factors to consider in diabetes treatment with insulin.
The Types of Insulin in Diabetes Treatment
Most insulin in use today is synthetically produced from laboratory cultures. However, a small percentage of people with type 1 diabetes still use animal-based insulins that are distilled and purified from the pancreases of cows (bovine insulin) and pigs (porcine insulin)in diabetes treatment.
There are six types of synthetic insulin available—rapid-acting, regular, NPH (N), lente (L), ultralente, and long-acting basal. Each has its own unique therapeutic effect. An insulin’s onset of action in diabetes treatment is how long it takes the hormone to start working at lowering blood glucose levels. The peak is the point at which the dose is at the height of its therapeutic effectiveness, and the duration is how long the insulin’s blood glucose lowering effect lasts from injection to end.
Your healthcare provider may suggest two types of insulin used in combination or at different times of the day in the diabetes treatment process. Some insulin manufacturers market commonly-used mixtures of insulins.
How to Take Insulin during Diabetes Treatment
Insulin can be injected manually, or can be infused into the body with the help of a small electronic infusion device called an insulin pump.
There are several choices available for people who inject insulin in the process of treating diabetes. Syringes are probably the most common and cost-effective choice, and are useful for patients who take two types of insulin mixed together. An alternative to syringes is an insulin pen, which comes prefilled with insulin and may either be disposable or reusable (with disposable insulin cartridges). The device resembles a large pen, with a fine needle under the cap and a plunger at the other end. A dial allows the user to regulate the dose. Insulin pens are also available in the most frequently-prescribed mixtures of insulin types, such as 70/30 (NPH and regular insulin). In diabetes treatment, some people prefer pens to syringes because they are easy to carry and use.
Another device known as an insulin jet injector works by using a high-pressure blast of air to send a fine spray of insulin through the skin. This may be a good option for those patients that are needle-shy. However, jet injectors require a significant financial investment and aren’t always covered by insurance. Something consider in diabetes treatment.
An insulin pump may be more effective in type 1 diabetes treatment for some people because it more closely mimics the insulin production of a pancreas. An insulin pump is a compact electronic device with an attached infusion set (or tube) that administers a small, steady flow of insulin to a patient throughout the day, known as a “basal rate.” Before eating, a pump user programs the pump to deliver a “bolus” of fast-acting insulin to cover the corresponding rise in blood glucose levels from the meal. Pump flow can also be manually adjusted by a user throughout the day as needed. This can be a great tool for diabetes treatment.
(information for this article obtained from www.dlife.com)
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