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Toledo, OH 43623
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Managing Your Diabetes: Just Found out You Need to Take Insulin?

separator People who have type 1 diabetes always need to take insulin injections because their pancreas doesn’t produce insulin any longer. When you have type 2 diabetes, the much more common form, your pancreas still produces insulin, but your body doesn’t use it as effectively as it should. People with type 2 often hope they’ll be able to manage their condition through lifestyle changes such as eating the right foods in the right amounts, getting regular exercise and managing stress. They often are able to manage their blood sugar this way. Often, they may need to take medications that help their body use insulin more efficiently.

But sometimes when you have type 2, you do have to take insulin, even if you’ve tried very hard to manage your blood sugar in other ways. Many times, insulin becomes necessary when other medications are no longer effective enough. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed; it just means that your body now needs insulin injections to keep your blood glucose in check.

Your doctor may recommend that you continue to take your oral medication in addition to insulin, because the oral drugs can help your body use insulin better.

Six different types of insulin
Most people take at least two different types of insulin at different times of the day. Some insulins start acting quickly, others slowly and sill others provide a steady dose over a day’s time. The type or types you take, how much and how often are all things your health care team will explain to you. Insulin dosing varies from person to person because, very simply, everyone is different. Some people tend to have high blood sugar early in the morning, while others might have high blood sugar after meals. Some people exercise more than other people, and exercise affects the way your body uses insulin. Some people experience high blood sugar when they’re sick and others do not.

When you first start taking insulin, it’s important to test your blood sugar levels regularly and to keep records of the results. This probably seems like a nuisance, but it provides valuable information. Over time, your records can show you how your body responds to your insulin. You can spot trends—how sickness affects your blood sugar, how stress affects it, etc.—and make adjustments accordingly.

Common times to test your blood sugar include before meals, one or two hours after meals and at bedtime. Your care team can tell you when you can reduce the amount of times that you test.

There are six different types of insulin:

  1. Rapid-acting
    Lispro (Humalog)
    Starts working in 5 to 15 minutes
    Lowers blood sugar the most in 45 to 90 minutes
    Finishes working in 3 to 4 hours

    Aspart (Novolog)
    Starts working in 10 to 20 minutes
    Lowers blood sugar the most in 1 to 3 hours
    Finishes working in 3 to 5 hours
     
  2. Short acting
    Regular (R)
    Starts working in 30 minutes
    Lowers glucose most in 2 to 5 hours
    Finishes working in 5 to 8 hours
     
  3. Intermediate-acting
    NPH (N) or Lente (L)
    Starts working in 1 to 3 hours
    Lowers blood sugar the most in 6 to 12 hours
    Finishes working in 16 to 24 hours
     
  4. Long-acting
    Ultralente (U)
    Starts working in 4 to 6 hours
    Lowers blood glucose the most in 8 to 20 hours
    Finishes working in 24 to 28 hours
     
  5. Very long-acting
    Glargine (Lantus)
    Starts working in 1 hour
    Lowers blood glucose evenly for 24 hours
    Finishes working in 24 hours and is taken once a day at bedtime
     
  6. Premixed
    NPH and Regular insulin mixed in one bottle
    Starts working in 30 minutes
    Lowers blood sugar most in 7 to 12 hours
    Finishes working in 16 to 24 hours

Your diabetes educator: an important ally at this time
For many people, one of the hardest things about taking insulin at first is learning to give yourself a shot. Your diabetes educator can help with that, helping you practice so that you’re finally comfortable with it.

Your diabetes educator will also explain where on your body it’s best to give your injection. Fastest results occur when you inject in your stomach, medium speed occurs when you inject in your arm and the slowest speed is from your upper leg and buttocks.

It can sound pretty complicated at first, and even intimidating. That’s why you need to ask questions over and over again, until you really feel as though you understand how your care plan works. And don’t be hard on yourself in the beginning. You’re still learning, and you’re bound to make a few mistakes along the way. That’s normal. The important thing is that you learn, over time, what you need to do to control your blood sugar as best you can.

Source:
American Diabetes Association—Diabetes Forecast November 2000; National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases—National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearing House.



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