a person looking at insulin and thinking about the insulin

Understand Your Insulin

Insulin is an important part of many people’s regimen with type 2 diabetes. This medication helps to keep us in a healthy blood sugar range and makes sure we stay as healthy as we can, avoiding many of the complications that come with diabetes. However, if you don’t understand your insulin and don't take it as prescribed, it may not be doing you any good and could be causing you harm in the short and long run.

Understanding insulin for type 2 diabetes

Here are a few tips on insulin that may help you stay healthier longer.

Short-acting insulin

There are two types of insulin, short-acting and long-acting. Short-acting is generally taken before meals, before bed, and when sugar is higher than normal during testing. It can be prescribed as a set amount or on a sliding scale. The set amount may be to take a certain number of units for a set amount of carbs per meal. A sliding scale is when you take insulin based on your blood sugar readings. Your doctor will help you decide which is best for you. I would personally prefer a sliding scale, simply because it forces you to test your blood sugar and in turn, helps you keep track of your progress and if your insulin is working. The reason you take short-acting insulin before meals is because it starts to work pretty quickly. Without eating, it could cause you to become hypoglycemic. Make sure you have clear instructions from your doctor on when and how to take it before you leave the office. If you are not sure, call the office and find out.

Long-acting insulin

Long-acting insulin is taken either once or twice a day. It can take up to 6 hours to reach its peak effectiveness and lasts about 24 hours. You have to take this at the same time every day unless your doctor says otherwise. Just because it is daily, don’t take one dose in the evening and the next day's dose in the morning. This will help keep a steady level of blood sugar reducing insulin in your body at all times. This is a good option for those having heavy blood sugar fluctuations to help keep you more stable.

Insulin strength

One last important thing to remember is to know your insulin strength. This is more important for short-acting insulin. Most insulin is dosed at 100 units per 1 mL. There are some insulins that are dosed at 500 units per 1 mL, meaning if you pulled up the same number in the syringe, you could give yourself five times the dose you were supposed to putting you in a dangerous situation. Usually, the more concentrated insulin is given to those who take large doses of the standard insulin dose. Make sure you are aware of your dose, the concentration, and your syringe. You may need to do some math, and it is best to check your math with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure you get the proper dose.

Safety first

Insulin is an important and dangerous medication. It can be life-saving as well as life-threatening if you don’t follow the proper measures to make sure you give yourself the correct dose. Like I said, if you are unsure, ask your doctor or pharmacist. If it is after-hours, call the after-hours nurse line and ask them. You will not be inconveniencing or bothering anyone. That is what they are there for, to make sure you are safe and properly educated.

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