How Does Insulin Help to Regulate Blood Sugar Levels??

Dr. Pakhi Sharma (MBBS)
Dr. Pakhi Sharma (MBBS)

General Physician | 6+ years

What is Insulin?
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Insulin and diabetes are always spoken of together. How insulin works is that the hormone regulates blood sugar levels by signaling the muscle, liver, and fat cells to absorb glucose from the blood and use it for energy. If the body has enough energy, insulin signals the liver to store glucose as glycogen. Insulin for diabetes management is recommended to keep blood sugar levels in the normal range.

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What is Insulin?

The islets of Langerhans in the pancreas produce the hormone insulin. It helps regulate the amount of glucose in the blood by allowing the cells in the muscles, fat, and liver to absorb it. Glucose serves as energy to cells. Insulin also affects other metabolic processes, such as the breakdown of fat or protein. A synthetic form of insulin is used to treat diabetes.

Should You Take Insulin?

People with type 2 diabetes have what is known as insulin resistance, meaning their bodies do not use insulin efficiently, or they may have insulin deficiency, which means the body does not produce enough of the hormone. People with type 1 diabetes make little or no insulin. When you have diabetes, glucose levels are unregulated, and therefore, you may need to take insulin to manage the condition and prevent long-term complications such as nerve and kidney damage.

How to Take Your Insulin the Right Way?

Insulin is most effective when taken before a meal. Here’s how to do it:

  • Pinch the skin and insert the needle at a 45° angle.
  • Leave the syringe in place for 5 seconds after injecting.
  • The belly is the best place to inject insulin as this area can absorb insulin most consistently.
  • Don’t massage the diabetes insulin injection site as this interferes with the absorption of the insulin.
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Common Types of Insulin Treatments

INSULIN TYPE   TIME TAKEN FOR ABSORPTION ACTIVE TIME   IN BODY WHEN IS IT ADMINISTERED
  Ultra rapid-acting   2-15 minutes   4 hours     Taken with meal
  Rapid-acting                15 minutes   2-4 hours    Right before a meal
  Long-acting       2 hours   Up to 24 hours   Taken once a day

Different Ways to Administer Insulin

Some of the different ways to administer insulin include:

  • Injection: 

Here, one needs to be accurate about the dosage. Insulin is injected into subcutaneous fat, usually in the belly region.

  • Insulin Pen: 

Insulin pens for type 2 diabetes are popular as they make injecting insulin easier and record dosage.

  • Insulin Pumps: 

Worn on the belt, it delivers insulin through a tube into a cannula inserted below the skin.

  • Inhaled Insulin: 

This rapid-acting insulin is taken through an inhaler.

Is Insulin Better than Other Alternatives & Why?

When it comes to type 2 diabetes management, there are two types of treatment recommended —medication and insulin. 

Oral medication does not replace insulin, but works by helping the body produce more insulin, use it effectively, and lower glucose levels.

But, why are some patients of diabetes treated by giving injections of insulin? The reason is that pills may not be enough to get blood sugar levels under control.

What are the Advantages Of Insulin Therapy For Diabetes?

If other treatments haven’t been able to keep blood sugar levels within the desired range, insulin therapy is the best option as it helps immediately regulate glucose levels in the body and keep them within the target range. If blood sugar levels are not regulated in those with diabetes, it can lead to serious long-term complications such as nerve and kidney damage.

What are the Disadvantages Of Insulin Therapy For Diabetes? (Side effects of insulin)

Long-term use of insulin is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular complications, hypoglycaemia, and may lead to weight gain. Sweating, dizziness, hunger, rapid heart rate, blurred vision, confusion, and shakiness are a few of the side effects. 

Precautions When a Patient is on Insulin

  1. Eat at regular times.
  2. Limit alcohol consumption.
  3. Avoid certain medications.
  4. Do not skip a dose of insulin.
  5. Do not repeatedly inject at the same site, as this will result in increased thickening of the subcutaneous fat.

Don’t Have Time To Read?

  • Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas. It regulates glucose levels in the blood by allowing the cells in the muscles, fat, and liver to absorb it. 
  • People with type 2 diabetes usually have insulin resistance or insulin deficiency. In people with type 1 diabetes, little to no insulin is produced by the body. Therefore, insulin therapy is required to prevent long-term complications such as nerve and kidney damage.
  • Insulin can be administered through injection, Insulin pen, Insulin inhaler, Insulin pump.
  • Some side effects of insulin therapy are sweating, dizziness, hunger, rapid heart rate, blurred vision, confusion, and shakiness. Long-term use of insulin may increase risk of cardiovascular complications, hypoglycaemia, and lead to weight gain.
  • Use Phable Care App to consult India’s leading diabetologists, order medicines, book lab tests, integrate Accu-Chek instant and other devices to get real-time remote care from the comfort of your home. Let’s treat diabetes together.

Frequently Asked Questions

High insulin levels usually result in the development of diabetes mellitus or type 2 diabetes. Long-term complications of diabetes include heart disease, and nerve and kidney damage.

Honey, garlic, whole grains and slow-cooked oatmeal, yogurt, avocado, and banana may help to reduce insulin levels. 

Food rich in soluble fiber such as oatmeal, legumes, flaxseeds, and fruits like oranges can help increase insulin levels.

Weight gain is known to be one of the side effects of insulin therapy. 

Dr. Pakhi Sharma
Dr. Pakhi Sharma, MBBS
(General physician, 6+ years)
An expert in obstetrics and medical emergencies, Dr. Pakhi Sharma, an alumni of Sri Devaraj Urs University of Higher Education and Research Centre, is a general physician working at Phablecare. She has 6+ years of work experience spread across gynaecology and obstetrics, family medicine, and medical emergencies at renowned hospitals and clinics.

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