What Is Insulin?
Insulin is a hormone that is normally secreted in the body by special cells located in an organ called the pancreas. The purpose of insulin is to regulate the amount of glucose, or sugar, in the blood. It accomplishes this by stimulating the body to absorb glucose and store it in the liver and muscle cells. Problems with the production or response to the hormone insulin leads to diabetes. Type 2 diabetes results due to a combination of 2 abnormalities:
- Resistance to insulin which stimulates the body to absorb blood sugar and
- Inadequate insulin production to make up for this resistance.
Insulin Therapy for Type 2 Diabetics
Those with type 2 diabetes typically are not dependent on daily insulin injections. Injected insulin is used to treat type 2 diabetics that do not achieve adequate control of their blood sugar levels with diet therapy and weight loss combined with oral diabetes medications. Two types of insulin are typically used to treat type 2 diabetics with poor blood glucose control on pills:
Short and intermediate-acting insulin – onset of action in 5 to 60 minutes, duration of action 3 to 8 hours
Long-acting insulin – onset of action in 1 to 4 hours, duration of action 10-24 hours
You must take certain precautions if you use insulin such as carrying juice or glucose tablets at all times to prevent or treat low blood sugar.
Most people who are prescribed these medications are able to enjoy their beneficial effects without experiencing bothersome side effects. Unfortunately, a small percentage of people using insulin may experience low blood sugar which is a serious concern especially if there is low carbohydrate intake or history of alcohol abuse. Other side effects such as resistance and lipodystrophy (abnormalities at the injection site due to break down of fatty tissue) have been markedly reduced due to the development of highly purified human insulin preparations. Ensure that you discuss any potential side effects with your healthcare provider immediately who may need to choose an alternative medicine to treat your condition.
As mentioned already, hypoglycemia is a serious concern for people using insulin, especially if there is low carbohydrate intake or history of alcohol abuse. Symptoms of this medical condition include rapid heart rate, palpitations, sweating, shaking, confusion, blurred vision, difficulty speaking, loss of consciousness, and seizure. You must take certain precautions if you use insulin such as carrying juice or glucose tablets at all times to prevent or treat low blood sugar. A glucagon emergency kit should also be available. Another important note is that diabetics can develop hypoglycemia awareness. This is seen in people who build a tolerance and lower levels of blood sugar are required in order to develop symptoms. It is important that you follow up with your health care provider regularly to monitor your condition and adjust medications as appropriate.