Type 2 Diabetes Treatments - Insulin Injections
We’ve come a long way in discussing the various treatments for type 2 diabetes, and their effectiveness. When many other avenues are exhausted, and a person’s type 2 diabetes has progressed enough that they no longer have enough of an insulin production available to meet their glucose processing needs, they may require insulin injections.
By far, insulin is the most commonly prescribed injectible. Insulin is not a drug; it is a hormone which the body makes naturally in order to help the body’s cells and tissues uptake glucose for their daily energy needs. However, when a person develops diabetes, they may lose or deplete their ability to make insulin. Without insulin, a person cannot use glucose, so they cannot have ‘fuel’ available for their body’s many functions – and they may die. There is no shame in needing to take insulin, and using insulin does not mean we are addicted to any substance.
There are two main types of insulin:
- Slow acting insulin, which works in the background to keep our blood glucose levels steady throughout the day, and
- Fast acting insulin, which the body releases as a burst in order to help digest food when we’ve just had a meal.
Not all people will need replacing both kinds of insulin. Some may only need to take slow acting insulin, and some might need to take both. There are different kinds of insulin, and different strengths. Some are even a mixture of long and fast acting insulin, and might have varying ‘peek times.’ Your doctor (or preferably a specialist) can help you make the best decision, or you may seek to meet with a Certified Diabetes Educator. Depending on your lifestyle needs, and other concerns, there might be a particular type of insulin that is right for you.
The most common side effects from dosing insulin include: an increased chance of hypoglycemia – so counting carbohydrates, and eating regular meals and snacks is important. Having ready-glucose supplies is also an important consideration, especially when exercising. If a person does not regularly rotate their injection site, they might also develop scar-tissue because there’s not enough time allowed for healing of the area. There might also be an initial weight-gain after starting treatment, largely due to the fact that the person’s body is now getting the most of their nutrition – when a person gets to a point in which they need insulin, they haven’t been getting the most of their nutrition due to poor glucose absorption. Patience and proper attention to diet, and exercise, will help resolve this issue.
Insulin comes in both vial form (which needs refrigeration), and pen form, which can be kept at longer intervals of room temperature, for easier transportation and administering. Other ways in which insulin may be administered include various styles of ‘insulin pumps’ (some specifically made for people with type 2 diabetes), which help add even more flexibility into a patient’s schedule, while other gadgets such as continuous glucose monitoring devices may help monitor for serious hypoglycemic issues.
When replacing a hormone such as insulin, other considerations may apply, such as the balance insulin plays with other hormones, and the potential need to replace those as well. We will discuss those in another blog post.
Did you know that diabetes is a risk factor for developing chronic kidney disease?