Diabetes Treatment with Insulin

A Comprehensive Guide to Diabetes Treatment with Insulin: Understanding and Implementing

Diabetes Treatment with Insulin is taking over a significant place. Before insulin, most people with type 1 diabetes died within 5 years of identification. But now, insulin has made a huge difference, helping people live longer and healthier lives.

According to the latest report from The IDF Diabetes Atlas, there are currently 537 million adults aged 20 to 79 living with diabetes, which is about 1 in every 10 people. This number is expected to jump to 643 million by 2030 and a staggering 783 million by 2045. These numbers show how serious the diabetes problem is getting.

With diabetes becoming more widespread, we must take it seriously and arm ourselves with comprehensive knowledge about insulin therapy in diabetes treatment.

What is Insulin?

Many people in the world are afraid to take insulin. But what is insulin, actually?

Insulin is an essential hormone for the human body, which is secreted from the pancreas.

When people eat food, the body breaks down the food into sugar or glucose. Then, insulin tells the body’s cells to take up that sugar, which acts as fuel or energy for the body.

But when the pancreas cannot produce insulin, that is, when the body fails to break down all the sugar (glucose) in the blood, then ‘diabetes’ occurs.

In such a situation, artificial insulin has to be given from outside to keep the human body healthy.

The Role of Insulin in The Body

In the human body’s complex system, few substances are as crucial as insulin. Made by the pancreas, insulin controls blood sugar levels and helps with many important body processes. Let’s explore how diabetes treatment with insulin keeps us healthy:

  • Insulin’s main job is to manage blood sugar levels. When we eat carbs, they turn into glucose, which goes into our blood. Insulin acts like a key, letting glucose into cells for energy.
  • In cells, glucose becomes ATP, the body’s energy currency. Without insulin, cells can’t use glucose, leaving too much sugar in the blood and cells without enough energy.
  • If blood sugar levels rise, insulin tells the liver and muscles to store extra glucose for later. This stored form, called glycogen, provides energy when needed.
  • Insulin stops the body from breaking down stored glucose and fats too quickly, ensuring a steady energy supply and preserving vital nutrients.
  • Insulin helps cells take in amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. These are crucial for repairing tissues, growing, and staying healthy.
  • Besides controlling blood sugar, insulin affects many metabolic pathways. It helps make fats, regulates potassium and magnesium levels, and balances electrolytes.
  • Imbalances in insulin levels or insulin resistance can lead to serious health issues like type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease.

Why Does Anyone May Need Diabetes Treatment with Insulin?

So, imagine this: your body needs fuel to function properly, right? Well, think of glucose (sugar) as that fuel. When you eat, your body breaks down food into glucose, which then needs to get into your cells to give you energy. Here’s where insulin comes in – it’s like the key that unlocks the door to your cells, allowing glucose to enter and fuel your body.

But what happens if that key doesn’t work properly or isn’t there at all? That’s where insulin therapy steps in.

Type 1 Diabetes

In type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. As a result, people with type 1 diabetes produce little to no insulin and require insulin therapy to survive. Without insulin, glucose (sugar) from food can’t enter the cells to provide energy, leading to high blood sugar levels and various complications.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body becomes resistant to the effects of insulin or doesn’t produce enough insulin to meet its needs. Initially, people with type 2 diabetes may be able to manage their condition with lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise. However, insulin therapy may be necessary as the disease progresses to help control blood sugar levels effectively.

Gestational Diabetes

Some pregnant women develop gestational diabetes, a temporary form of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy. Insulin therapy may be recommended if blood sugar levels remain high despite dietary changes and physical activity. Controlling blood sugar levels during pregnancy is essential to prevent complications for both the mother and the baby.

Other Forms of Diabetes

Certain medical conditions, medications, or surgeries can cause secondary diabetes, where insulin production or utilization is affected. In such cases, insulin therapy may be required as part of diabetes treatment with insulin to manage blood sugar levels effectively.

Hyperglycemia Emergencies

In severe cases of hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), such as diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) or hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state (HHS), insulin therapy is necessary to lower blood sugar levels rapidly and prevent life-threatening complications.

Types of Insulin for Diabetes

Managing diabetes often involves the use of insulin to help regulate blood sugar levels. There are several types of insulin available, each with its own onset, peak, and duration of action. Understanding these different types can be crucial for individuals with diabetes and their healthcare providers in developing an effective diabetes treatment plan. Here are some common types of insulin, along with American examples:

Rapid-Acting Insulin

Rapid-acting insulin starts working within 15 minutes after injection, peaks within 30 to 90 minutes, and typically lasts for about 3 to 5 hours. It’s used to control blood sugar levels during meals or to correct high blood sugar levels. 

Examples include insulin lispro (brand name: Humalog), insulin aspart (brand name: NovoLog), and insulin glulisine (brand name: Apidra).

Short-Acting Insulin

Also known as regular insulin, short-acting insulin usually begins working within 30 minutes after injection, peaks in 2 to 3 hours, and lasts for about 3 to 6 hours. It’s commonly used to cover blood sugar levels during meals. 

An example of short-acting insulin is Humulin R.

Intermediate-Acting Insulin

Intermediate-acting insulin takes longer to start working, typically beginning within 2 to 4 hours after injection, peaking in 4 to 12 hours, and lasting for about 12 to 18 hours. It provides coverage for blood sugar levels between meals and overnight. 

An example is NPH insulin (brand names: Humulin N, Novolin N).

Long-Acting Insulin

Long-acting insulin has a slow onset of action, starting within 1 to 2 hours after injection, with no pronounced peak, and lasting for about 18 to 24 hours. It provides basal insulin coverage throughout the day and night. 

Examples include insulin glargine (brand names: Lantus, Basaglar) and insulin detemir (brand name: Levemir).

Ultra-Long-Acting Insulin 

This newer type of insulin has an even longer duration of action, lasting more than 24 hours. It provides a steady level of basal insulin and offers flexibility in dosing schedules. 

An example of ultra-long-acting insulin is insulin degludec (brand name: Tresiba).

Pre-Mixed Insulin

Pre-mixed insulin formulations contain a combination of rapid- or short-acting insulin with intermediate-acting insulin. They simplify dosing for individuals who require both basal and mealtime insulin. 

Examples include Humulin 70/30 (70% NPH insulin with 30% regular insulin) and NovoLog Mix 70/30 (70% insulin aspart protamine with 30% insulin aspart).

Inhaled Insulin

Inhaled insulin offers an alternative to injectable insulin for mealtime dosing. It is inhaled through a device and absorbed through the lungs. 

An example is Afrezza.

How to Take Insulin?

Before administering insulin in diabetes, it’s important to ensure its quality. If refrigerated, let the insulin come to room temperature. If it appears cloudy, gently roll the vial between your hands to mix the contents—avoid shaking. Note that short-acting insulin shouldn’t be cloudy when unmixed. Never use insulin that looks grainy, thickened, or discolored.

Follow these steps for safe and proper injection:

Step 1

Gather your supplies:

  • Medication vial
  • Needles and syringes
  • Alcohol pads
  • Gauze
  • Bandages
  • Puncture-resistant sharps container for safe disposal

Step 2

Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water, ensuring to wash all parts for at least 20 seconds.

Step 3

Hold the syringe upright with the needle on top and pull the plunger down to the desired dose.

Step 4

Remove caps from the insulin vial and needle. If reusing a vial, wipe its stopper with an alcohol swab.

Step 5

Insert the needle into the vial’s stopper and push the plunger to inject air equal to the intended dose.

Step 6

Invert the vial and withdraw the correct dosage, tapping and pushing any air bubbles back into the vial to remove them.

Step 7

Position the syringe securely and swab the injection site with an alcohol pad, allowing it to dry.

Step 8

Pinch a small portion of skin to avoid muscle injection and insert the needle at a 90-degree angle.

Step 9

Push the plunger down completely and wait for 10 seconds. With smaller needles, pinching may be optional.

Step 10

Release the pinched skin, remove the needle, and avoid rubbing the injection site. Apply light pressure if there’s minor bleeding.

Step 11

Dispose of the used needle and syringe in the puncture-resistant container for safe disposal.

What Are The Side Effects of Insulin?

Like any medication, insulin comes with its own set of potential side effects. Let’s dive into what those might be:

  • Hypoglycemia: is probably the most common side effect people experience with insulin. It’s when blood sugar drops too low, and you might feel shaky, dizzy, or confused. If this happens, always have a quick source of sugar on hand to bring your levels back up.
  • Weight gain: Insulin can sometimes lead to weight gain, especially if your dose is too high or if you’re not managing your diet and exercise properly. Working closely with your healthcare provider to find the right balance is important.
  • Injection site reactions: It’s possible you’ll observe redness, swelling, or itching at the spot where you administer your insulin injections. This is usually mild and goes away on its own, but if it’s bothering you, you can try rotating injection sites or using a different type of insulin.
  • Allergic reactions: In rare cases, some people might be allergic to insulin. Signs of an allergic reaction include itching, swelling, or trouble breathing. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical help immediately.
  • Lipodystrophy is a condition where fatty tissue under the skin either shrinks or thickens in response to repeated insulin injections. It can cause lumps or dents in the skin, but changing your injection sites regularly can help prevent it.
  • Vision changes: Some people notice changes when they start taking insulin. This is usually temporary and should go away once their body adjusts to the medication, but it’s still important to let their doctor know if they experience any changes in their eyesight.
  • Low potassium levels: Insulin can sometimes cause your potassium levels to drop too low, leading to muscle weakness, cramps, or irregular heartbeats. Your doctor may monitor your potassium levels regularly if you’re taking insulin.
  • Increased risk of heart disease: There’s some evidence to suggest that long-term use of insulin may slightly increase your risk of heart disease. However, the benefits of controlling your blood sugar usually outweigh this risk, especially if you can maintain a healthy lifestyle.

How to Prevent Insulin Resistance?

If you want to maintain your body’s sensitivity to insulin and avoid the complications of insulin resistance, you must follow some rules strictly. Let’s dive into some simple yet effective strategies to keep your insulin levels in check.

Maintain a Healthy Diet

  • Fill your plate with whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
  • Minimize intake of processed foods, sugary snacks, and beverages.

Stay Active

  • Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.
  • Find activities you enjoy, like walking, jogging, cycling, or dancing.

Watch Your Weight

  • Gradually lose excess weight through a combination of diet and exercise.
  • Even a small amount of weight loss can improve insulin sensitivity.

Get Plenty of Sleep

  • Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night.
  • Maintain a consistent sleep schedule to support hormone balance.

Manage Stress

  • Practice relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises.
  • Spend time with loved ones and engage in activities that bring you joy.

Limit Alcohol Consumption

  • Enjoy alcohol in moderation, as excessive consumption can interfere with insulin processing.
  • Be mindful of how alcohol affects your blood sugar levels.

Stay Hydrated

  • Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day to support overall health.
  • Proper hydration is essential for optimal bodily functions, including insulin sensitivity.

Wrapping Up

In concluding our discussion on diabetes treatment with insulin, it’s evident that from type 1 diabetes to gestational diabetes and beyond, insulin plays a vital role in regulating blood sugar levels and preventing complications.

As we’ve explored the various aspects of diabetes treatment with insulin, from understanding different types of insulin to managing potential side effects and incorporating lifestyle changes, it’s crucial to recognize the importance of seeking support when needed.

If you or someone you know is struggling with diabetes treatment or insulin therapy, remember that you’re not alone. Noble Health Clinic is here to help. Whether you need guidance on insulin management, lifestyle adjustments, or simply someone to talk to, our team is ready to assist you on your journey to better health.

Don’t hesitate to reach out for help and support. Together, we can work towards achieving optimal diabetes management and improving overall well-being. At Noble Health Clinic, your health and happiness are our top priorities.

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