InsulinWhat is insulin?
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas to control the amount of glucose in the blood. In patients who have diabetes, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin and therefore, it may lead to serious health conditions such as kidney problem, heart disease, blindness, nerve damage, amputation and erectile dysfunction. Therefore, insulin is given by injection for maintaining the level of blood glucose. Patients with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin every day because the body does not produce naturally any insulin. Though patients with type 2 diabetes are able to produce naturally insulin in order to keep the level of glucose appropriate, they still need to use insulin to better manage the blood glucose levels. Insulin is available for use only with prescription.
Types of insulin
There are many types of insulins available that offer more flexibility in matter of numbers and timing of injections the patient needs in order to keep even the targeted blood glucose level. Generally, patients need one or two injections a day in order to manage better the blood glucose level. Therefore, the insulins differ by their duration of action, their peaks of action and their onset of action, which in fact means, how quickly insulin starts working. It is a very important point in choosing the insulin according to the type of diabetes you have, because it makes you understand how it works and it helps you to better organize the time of meals, snacks and other activities accordingly.
How important is to monitor the blood glucose levels?
It is essential to monitor blood glucose levels on a regular basis. First of all it is an indicator of the blood glucose levels and an indicator of efficiency of the insulin you take. Periodic checks in blood glucose give you the right information about variations in blood glucose levels and how much insulin you need to take in order to keep the blood glucose levels even for improving your health condition.
What insulin to choose in order to fit your condition?
It is very important to consult a doctor prior to commencement of therapy with insulin. He/she has to take into consideration several factors including your age, treatment scope, meal schedule, lifestyle, general health condition and awareness of incidence of low blood glucose (hypoglycemia). Your healthcare provider will chose the best insulin plan in order to help you maintain the appropriate blood glucose levels that will help you improve the general health condition. It might take time until the body gets used to the insulin regimen, that may be flexible and change according to your life events and changes in lifestyle, for example a new exercise plan. It is important to discuss with a doctor about all concerns you have regarding the insulin regimen and how to better manage the adjustment of insulin in certain circumstances. Make periodic checks at your healthcare provider and make sure you follow all his/her instructions. It is important to understand the health state you are in and continue taking insulin exactly as prescribed.
Indications of administration
Insulin may be administered by syringe, pen or pump according to the personal preference of the patient and the tolerance to a type of usage. Discuss all benefits and disadvantages of using each type of device for delivering insulin. First of all, make sure you chose the most appropriate type for delivering the correct amount of insulin you need daily, afterwards consider the personal priorities in matter of comfort and tolerance.
- Insulin pens has a fine needle and a single insulin cartridge, therefore patients may use multiple injections. If there is the need of using more than one kind of insulin at different times of the day, patients may carry two or more pens. It is necessary to separate the pens if you use two types of insulin at the same time. Generally, insulin pens are mostly recommended, because of their portability and ease in administration.
- Jet injectors do not have needles. This kind of devices releases a tiny stream of insulin through the skin by pressure.
- Syringes are smaller and have fine needles with special coatings that make it comfortable to use. If the patient needs to take two types of insulin at the same time, he/she can mix the insulins and take only one injection. Generally, if the patient needs to take two types of insulin at the same time, the healthcare provider prescribes mixed insulin, in order to make it easier for injecting.
- Insulin pumps are considered safe and very effective in delivering greater quantities of insulin. The pumps can be scheduled to deliver the amount of insulin the patient needs due to the fact that it has a reservoir that is programmed, and inserted under the skin it delivers the quantity of insulin the patient needs for maintaining the targeted blood glucose level. This pump has the size of a pager and is worn outside. In order to deliver the insulin, the patient needs to press the button on the pump.
Important information related to the use of insulin
- It is essential to keep record of the name and amount of insulin you use daily, the time during the day you need to inject insulin, how long it works and its peak of action. It is very important to keep written all these records due to the fact that it will help you remember when you need to take it, what quantities, how long does it work.
- Each type of insulin has its own dosing schedule, onset, peak and duration. Do not change the insulin at your own consideration without advising the healthcare provider.
- Do not stop taking insulin without announcing the physician. If there are certain upcoming life events that need an eventual change in dosing schedule and other issues, contact your healthcare right away and discuss all matters.
It is recommended to keep insulin unopened at refrigerated temperatures of 2 to 10 degrees C (35 to 50 degrees F). If the insulin is opened, it has a shelf life of 28 days. Keep the vials out of the reach and sight of children. Do not use expired vials. Carefully check the expiry date on a vial before you use it. Unopened vials are good until they expire, therefore do not buy extra vials of insulin. However, make sure you do not run out of insulin. Also, remember, do not let the insulin freeze or get too hot (it is not recommended to keep the vials at a temperature over 37 degrees C or 97 degrees F).