Essential Facts about Diabetes and Insulin
People with diabetes take insulin to control their blood sugar (otherwise known as glucose). It can not be taken by mouth because it would be destroyed by digestion. Most people who need insulin take shots of it. Popular ways to take it include pens, jet injectors and pumps. When a person eats, their bodies break food down into compounds, one of which is glucose. The cells of human bodies use glucose as an energy source for movement, growth, repair, and other functions. Before the cells can use glucose, they have to move from the bloodstream into the individual cell which requires insulin.
This is produced by the beta cells in the islets of Langerhans in the pancreas. When glucose enters a persons blood, the pancreas ought to instinctively produce the right amount of insulin to move glucose into the cells. People with type 1 diabetes produce no insulin. People with type 2 diabetes do not always produce enough insulin. The products used by people who have diabetes are taken from animals (either pigs or cows) or manufactured in labs to be indistinguishable to human insulin.
There are more than 20 types of products available in four forms, that each have different times of action and duration. Which insulin a person should use is based on an individual’s lifestyle, a physician’s first choice and knowledge, and the person’s blood sugar levels. Among the criteria in choosing which one are:
how soon it starts to work (onset) when it works the most and hardest (peak time) how long it lasts in the body (duration)
Syringes – Syringes are needles attached to hollow barrels that people with diabetes use to inject themselves. The syringes are small with sharp points and a lot have a coating to help the needles enter the skin painlessly.
Pens – These look like pens but the cartridges are filled with insulin. They can be used instead of needles.
Jet Injectors – These may be good for people who do not want to use needles. They use high pressure air to send a spray through the skin. They have no needles.
Pumps – They are small pumping device worn outside of the body which connects by tubing to a catheter located under the skin of the abdomen. The pump is programmed to dispense the necessary amount of insulin.
It is hoped that some day in the future people who have diabetes will no longer need needles. Researchers are constantly investigating new ways to get insulin into the bloodstreams.