Diabetes is a chronic metabolic condition characterized by high sugar level in the body. There are two different types of diabetes. Diabetes Type 1, a condition where the body can no longer produce its own insulin and Diabetes Type 2 is a situation when the body cannot effectively utilize the insulin produced or has become resistant to insulin.
Insulin is a substance produced by the pancreas to regulate and to maintain normal sugar level in the bloodstream. If this fails to happen, the amount of sugar in the body becomes excessive, necessitating replacement insulin. Left untreated, high blood sugar can lead to blindness, neuropathy or kidney damage.
Replacement insulin is one of the options for treating diabetes (Type 1 or 2) when the pancreas can no longer produce insulin necessary to drive sugar into the tissues. Replacement insulin may be prescribed (if oral medications fail) to bring the body/blood sugar to normal levels. (Note: For an adult, normal level of blood sugar is 70-80mg/dL before meals).
The goal of insulin therapy is to keep blood sugar within target range and prevent complications. Insulin lowers blood sugar when it is too high.
The amount of insulin received is patient dependent. While some patient are placed on scheduled dose, others are on sliding scale (or correction dose) or and some have combination of both. It is essential to check blood sugar level before administering insulin to avoid hypoglycemia.
It’s also important to know that there are different types and different options of insulin from which the physician can choose. How often blood sugar should be checked depends on the Doctor’s prescription. Types and amount of insulin prescribed depends on how often the patient’s blood sugar fluctuate, how quickly and how long the insulin would act.
Below are some of the different options and types of insulin:
- Regular insulin (Humulin and Novolin)
- Rapid-acting insulins (NovoLog)
- Intermediate-acting insulin (Novolin)
- Long-acting insulins (Lantus)
- Combination insulins (NovoLog Mix 70/30)
Best practice: Do not administer insulin without first knowing what the blood sugar value is. Doing so can lead to hypoglycemia. The most common ways of checking blood sugar is by needle stick as of today. Usually, it is done before meals.
Insulin is not an over the counter (OTC) medication, it should never be self-prescribed. However, it can be self-administered after receiving relevant education.