There are 3 major types of diabetes mellitus: type 1, type 2, and gestational. The first one appears when the pancreas can’t produce enough insulin, the second one is the result of insulin resistance, and gestational diabetes occurs in some pregnant women.
Different causes of diabetes are the reason why there are different methods to manage high blood sugar levels. It never hurts to refresh insulin basics in memory, so let’s waste no more time and jump straight to the point.
What Does Insulin Do?
Right insulin doses “accompany” a patient’s own hormone in order to lower blood glucose levels until they are in the target range.
However, insulin injections are not all the same. They must be taken cautiously and according to a doctor’s instructions, as too much insulin will result in too low blood glucose levels, and a too-small insulin dose – in sugar damaging blood vessels and causing diabetes complications.
Insulin is available in several forms:
- Insulin pens (prefilled or with a replaceable insulin cartridge);
- Insulin pumps (devices that release insulin in steady doses);
- Insulin vials and syringes, and others.
In addition, people with type 2 diabetes are sometimes prescribed diabetes pills and other diabetes treatments.
How to Use Insulin?
Insulin therapy is not something to self-prescribe. A patient must take care of their health, and an important part is consulting with a doctor who can provide medical advice and tell how much insulin is needed. A healthcare provider will also recommend the best way to deliver insulin: insulin pen, insulin pump, or other methods.
It’s vital to stay disciplined and to inject insulin properly, according to the schedule received from a healthcare provider.
Still, there are some general guidelines for different types of insulin. But keep in mind that instructions from your medical provider are of a higher priority. Don’t adjust insulin doses on your own!
Such rapid-acting insulins as NovoRapid, Apidra, and Humalog act very quickly, within 5-30 minutes, thus they should be taken not long before or with a meal (depending on the type and brand of the medicine).
The injection mimics the mode of operation of the natural hormone produced by the pancreas. This type of insulin affects a blood sugar level for 3-5 hours.
Short-acting (or “regular”) insulin (Humulin R, Novolin R) is similar to rapid-acting one. Insulin shots must be taken approximately 15-30 minutes before eating. Still, your doctor can recommend a different insulin regimen.
The duration of the effects is about 2-3 hours.
Intermediate-acting insulins (Novolin N, Humulin N) are to be taken at least an hour before eating. They’re not as fast as rapid- and short-acting insulins, so the effect will come in about 1-1.5 hours.
Injecting insulin that is labeled as “intermediate-acting” will provide prolonged blood sugar control that will last for up to 14-15 hours.
Longer-acting, basal insulins (Levemir, Tresiba, Lantus) are preferable for people who’ve just started their treatment. On average, insulin delivery needs to be done only once a day at the same time. They have no peak effect, which reduces the risk of hypoglycemia.
A long-acting insulin shot will keep blood glucose levels within a normal range for up to 1-2 days.
Do Lifestyle Factors Matter?
Having diabetes is a challenge. While insulin therapy is the most effective way to control blood sugar levels, some patients can do without it. And those who must be still taking insulin on a regular basis will benefit from incorporating certain lifestyle changes as well.
Sticking to a healthy diet and habits, having enough physical activity that prevents weight gain, and experiencing less stress are keys to staying healthy.
To Sum Up
Insulin use is a vital part of the majority of diabetes treatment strategies. Still, insulin levels are not that easy to manage, and this process requires a professional doctor to analyze each unique case and come up with the best treatment plan.
Alongside mastering insulin dosing, it’s important to stick to a healthy lifestyle and get rid of bad habits, such as smoking and consuming alcohol.