All people with type 1 diabetes and some with type 2 diabetes require insulin to regulate blood glucose (sugar) levels. Glucose is a type of sugar we get from foods, and as it travels through the bloodstream to the cells, it’s called blood sugar or blood glucose. Glucose is found mainly in foods rich in carbohydrates, like fruit, bread, pasta and yogurt. The body uses glucose for energy.
Types of Insulin
Insulin is a hormone in the body that moves the glucose from your blood into the cells. However, if you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you either can’t produce insulin or can’t use it properly, and glucose builds up in the blood. People with diabetes take insulin by a syringe, injection pen or insulin pump. Types of insulin to treat diabetes include:
• Rapid-acting insulin, which starts working approximately 15 minutes after injection and peaks at approximately 1 hour (continues to work for 2 to 4 hours)
• Short-acting insulin, which starts working approximately 30 minutes after injection and peaks at approximately 2 to 3 hours (continues to work for 3 to 6 hours)
• Intermediate-acting insulin, which starts working approximately 2 to 4 hours after injection and peaks approximately 4 to 12 hours later (continues to work for 12-18 hours)
• Long-acting insulin, which starts working after several hours after injection and works for approximately 24 hours
Blood Glucose Monitoring
Blood glucose monitoring is an important part of any diabetes management plan. If you have diabetes, it’s important to check your blood sugar levels as prescribed by your doctor. This will determine if you have low or high blood sugar. You’ll need to get a blood glucose meter from your pharmacist or diabetes educator and learn how to use it. A traditional blood glucose meter uses lancets to puncture your skin, drawing a drop of blood that you then test on a blood glucose strip. A flash glucose meter (FGM) is a newer device that doesn’t require you to prick your finger – it uses sensor scans. Some people use a sensor inserted under the skin, called a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), to check blood sugar levels.
Your doctor will work with you to figure out which type of insulin is best for you depending on whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, your blood sugar levels, and your lifestyle. He or she will also show you how your medication and lifestyle are affecting your blood sugar levels.
Talk to your endocrinologist if you'd like more information on insulin.
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If you have diabetes, insulin may be part of your treatment. There are several types of insulin, so choosing the right one for you is an important discussion to have with your physician. Insulin pens are a great way to deliver insulin just below the skin into the fatty tissue. They are simple to use, come pre-loaded and may increase flexibility in your lifestyle. Find local endocrinologists who can help.