Guide To Diabetes
Human Body Diagrams
|What Is Insulin And What Does It Do?
Insulin is a hormone produced by a cluster of cells inside the pancreas called the Islets of Langerhans. The main function of insulin is to regulate the level of sugar (glucose) in the blood.
Other Functions Of Insulin
Blood glucose rises in the blood after eating a meal (particularly a meal which contains lots of carbohydrates) and falls when we have not eaten for a while or have exercised a lot (exercise uses up glucose). Typical signs of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) are weakness and shaking (you may notice your hands shake if you go for long periods without eating). If your blood sugar is too high (hyperglycemia) glucose spills into your urine. This draws water out of your blood so you need to urinate more often and feel excessively thirsty. To avoid this situation, the body naturally tries to keep blood glucose levels steady at between 60 to 100 mg/dl (3.3 to 6.4 mmol/L). It does this by increasing the amount of insulin in circulation immediately after eating. It instructs cells to open up so that glucose can enter. Some of this glucose will be used immediately as energy by the cells, some will be converted into a storage form called glycogen for rapid use later, while some will be converted into body fat for eventual later use.
Insulin is essential because without it, the body's cells cannot access glucose and use it for energy. Patients with type 1 diabetes produce little or no insulin because their pancreas has stopped producing it. If they did not receive daily shots of artificial insulin, they would quickly slip into a coma and die. Type 1 diabetics cannot take insulin in the form of pills. The type of insulin they need can only be injected with a syringe, insulin pump or insulin pen.
Type 2 diabetics are slightly different. Either they have relatively low insulin production or - more commonly - they develop insulin resistance. A person with insulin resistance can have levels of insulin similar to healthy non-diabetics - but the insulin they produce is not particularly good at its job. The cells of the body are 'resistant' to instructions from the insulin, so they do not properly absorb glucose circulating in the blood. This leads to elevated blood sugar which requires insulin pills (usually) or insulin shots (less commonly) to correct. Insulin resistance is linked to prediabetes and Metabolic Syndrome. If not corrected it can cause longterm diabetes complications such as kidney disease, diabetes foot problems or eye disease.
Bottom line: If you have type 1 diabetes, you cannot live without insulin shots. If you have type 2 you might not need insulin pills straight away, but you may need to take them eventually if lifestyle improvements (like losing weight or a better diet) do not improve symptoms. However, if your diabetes symptoms worsen, you may need to progress to insulin shots.
Rapid Acting Lispro Insulin
Insulin Tips: Common To All Insulin
• Insulin can be kept at room temperature for 4 weeks or kept in a refrigerator until its expiry date. After which, it should be discarded.
|Related Articles on Diabetes
For more diabetes information, see the following:
Homepage: Womens Health Advice