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Insulin and Type 2 Diabetes

If you have type 2 diabetes and your healthcare provider recently put you on insulin, you may feel disappointed that lifestyle changes and diabetes pills weren’t enough. Or, you may think that you should have tried harder to manage your diabetes. But you shouldn’t blame yourself. Many people with diabetes need to change their treatment plan at some point. There are advantages to this. For example, taking insulin can make it easier to manage your blood sugar and prevent complications of diabetes.

Why do I need insulin now?

It’s important to understand that diabetes changes over time. When people first develop type 2 diabetes, their pancreas is usually making plenty of insulin, just not enough to compensate for the insulin resistance. This can lead to a buildup of glucose in the blood. A healthy diet, regular exercise and weight loss may help improve insulin resistance. When these steps aren’t enough, diabetes pills can often help by reducing insulin resistance or increasing insulin secretion

Even so, after a few years, things can change. The pancreas may gradually make less and less insulin. Insulin resistance may also get worse over the years. And even if you eat right, exercise regularly and take your diabetes pills, it can be harder to reach your blood sugar goals. At this point, your healthcare provider may switch you to a different diabetes pill or have you take more than one type. Or, you may need to take insulin shots. These shots replace the insulin that your pancreas is no longer making.

What should I know about insulin?

There are several types of insulin, including long-acting, intermediate-acting, regular- or short-acting, and rapid-acting. Your healthcare provider will work with you to select the insulin that’s right for you. He or she will show you how to inject it and tell you how to store it. You may need to take more than one shot each day to reach your blood sugar goals.

The insulin will lower your blood sugar. How quickly this happens depends on the type of insulin and where on your body you inject it. Your healthcare provider will work with you so that you understand how much insulin to take and how close to a meal or snack you should take it.

Once you start taking insulin, you may still need to take diabetes pills. You should stick with your healthy diet and get exercise on most days. Your medicine, diet, and exercise all work together to keep your blood sugar controlled and to keep you at your healthy best.

Online Medical Reviewer: Hurd, Robert, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Sather, Rita, RN
Date Last Reviewed: 7/1/2016
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