A most essential hormone secreted by the pancreas, insulin assists to keep blood sugar level normal. Unfortunately, the pancreas of those who suffer from type 1 or type 2 diabetes may be unable to produce sufficient amount of insulin and, therefore, has to inject insulin into their body to keep their blood sugar level as normal as possible. There are different types of insulin, some of them fast acting while others are time-released, allowing the insulin to be effective throughout a day. Sometimes, there are side effects, possibly an increase in weight and developments of fatty tissues at the spot injections are made.
What Is Insulin?
Insulin is an essential hormone produced by a gland known as the pancreas. In diabetes, when the pancreas is unable to produce any or sufficient amount of it, insulin becomes a necessary medication to treat it. There are various types of insulin. It is the speed at which they become effective and the length of period they are effective that differentiate them.
Who Makes Insulin?
The manufacturers of insulin sold in the United States are Novo Nordisk, Eli Lilly and Company, and Sanofi-Aventis.
How Does Insulin Work?
Insulin is necessary for the control of blood sugar. This hormone, which is secreted by the pancreas assists the cells in absorbing the sugar into the cells so that it can be used by the cells as energy; energy is essential for the cells to work and survive. However, if your pancreas is incapable of producing enough insulin, as in type I diabetes and sometimes in type 2 diabetes, then insulin has to come as diabetes medication from a manufacturing company such as Novo Nordisk, Eli Lilly and Company, and Sanofi-Aventis.
Although insulin as medication is manufactured, it is exactly the same as the hormone produced by the pancreas. The scientist has managed to make slight changes to the insulin molecule so as to get it to either act faster or for a longer period of time. There are the rapid-acting insulins which are for the control of increasing blood sugar levels after the consumption of food. Then, there are the long-acting insulins which gives a steady, slow release of the insulin to have it last a long time, possibly a day. Other than the above mentioned types, there are also the intermediate-acting and short-acting versions.
When – How to Take Insulin?
Provided below are some guidelines on when and how insulin is to be taken.
- At present, insulin can be injected into the subcutaneous layer which is just below the skin, by the use of insulin pumps or intravenously (IV) in particular situations. There was a time when Exubera® (inhaled insulin) was a choice but due to poor sales, the item has been removed from the market.
- Your doctor or health care team ought to teach you how to inject insulin. Insulin can be injected into the layer of fat just below the skin at the stomach, upper arm, or thigh.
- As insulin settles after some time although it comes as a suspension, you have to shake or roll its container in order to get the insulin into a suspension again before use. Follow the instructions given for the insulin you are prescribed with.
- Although there are some insulins which can be mixed with other types of insulins in a syringe, others must not. It is advisable not to mix unless instructed by your doctor to do so. You must also read whatever instructions are on the label.
- Insulin works according to the type, seriousness of the condition and the right dosage. Therefore, doctor’s directions are important. Blood sugar levels must be monitored as directed by your doctor. Although certain forms of insulin are available over the counter, insulin medication should be used only when approved and supervised by a doctor.
How Does Insulin Work In The Body – Video Guide
What is the right dosage? How much insulin does a particular diabetic need? The answer to such questions depends upon certain factors, such as:
- The amount of carbohydrate ingested at each meal.
- The level of blood sugar that is normal for a particular person.
- The blood sugar levels of the diabetic.
- Other medications, for diabetes or any other health problem, taken.
- Other health problems.
The dosage must be prescribed by your doctor and it must never be adjusted or changed unless instructed to do so by the doctor. (see Insulin Dosage)
Side-Effects of Insulin
Similar to all medicines, insulin may cause side effects. Below are some of the side effects of diabetes medications, including every type of insulin.
- Increase in weight.(see Insulin and Weight Gain)
- Skin thickening or pitting at the spot injection is given.
- Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar level.
- A skin reaction at the spot injection is given.
Insulin has the potential to interact with some other medications. (see Insulin Drug Interactions)
What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider Before Taking Insulin?
Before taking any insulin, it is advisable to inform your doctor about the following:
- Any liver problem, such as liver failure, hepatitis, or cirrhosis.
- Chronic kidney disease, such as renal failure (kidney failure).
- Any type of allergy, such as allergies to foods, preservatives, or dyes.
- Pregnancy or intention of being pregnant.
- Any other prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
What If I Take an Overdose?
If an overdose of any type of insulin has inadvertently been taken, the symptoms experienced as below
- Tachycardia (a fast heartbeat).
- Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar Level).
- Loss of Life.
So, if you realize you have taken an overdose, seek medical help immediately before you become unconscious.
Insulin ought to be kept in the refrigerator, but not the freezer, until you begin to use it. After using it, storage depends upon the type of medication. Insulin pens and cartridges, for example, ought not to be kept in the refrigerator once they have been used. However, it is better to keep vials in the refrigerator although they can be kept at room temperature for a certain period; the length of the period depending upon the type of insulin.
Most present day insulin comes in U-100 strength meaning that there are 100 units of insulin in each milliliter. There is also available U-500 insulin which has 500 units of insulin in each milliliter.
Generic Insulin Availability
At present generic insulin is not available.