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The truth about insulin

If you are diabetic and you are having difficulty controlling your blood sugar levels, it is a good bet that you will soon be using insulin as your form of treatment in the control of your diabetes. Many people struggle with the thought of insulin because of what they have heard about it.

Insulin use is not about sugar levels in the body, but rather the amount of insulin needed to perform everyday digestive and energy producing functions in the body. Insulin is a natural hormone, normally produced by the body.

Myth: Insulin means I have failed to do what my doctor said.

Fact: Having to use insulin does not mean that you have failed to manage you diabetes well. Type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease and eventually your pancreas will not be able to keep up with your body’s need for insulin — regardless of what you’ve done to manage your diabetes. When the tablets no longer keep your blood glucose on target, insulin is often the next l step for managing diabetes.

Myth: Insulin does not work.

Fact: As mentioned earlier diabetes is an insulin problem. The insulin used today is very similar to the insulin that the body naturally makes. Actually, insulin is the best way to lower your blood glucose.

Myth: Insulin causes you to gain weight.

Fact: It is true that many patients who begin insulin will gain weight. Insulin helps your body use food more efficiently, so you could gain that weight. If this is a concern, ask for a referral to a dietitian before you start insulin.

Myth: Insulin injections are painful.

Fact: Although no one likes to be stuck, you will be surprised by how little an insulin injection hurts. Insulin does not “sting” going in, and the needles are very small and thin. In fact I have never felt any pain from an insulin injection someone else has taken! Most people find that it is less painful than a finger stick to monitor their blood glucose level.

Myth: Insulin drops your blood sugar too low.

Fact: It is true that insulin can cause a low blood glucose reaction (Hypoglycemia). However, with the newer or long-acting insulins, hypoglycemia is less likely to occur. And it is rare for people with type 2 diabetes to pass out from low blood glucose. You can learn how to prevent, recognize, and treat hypoglycemia and thus avoid severe insulin reactions.

Myth: Insulin is addictive.

Fact: You cannot get addicted to insulin. Insulin is a natural substance your body needs. If you are concerned that people who may see you give your insulin shot in a public place will think you are using illegal drugs, ask your provider if an insulin pen would work for you.

Myth: Insulin is expensive.

Fact: Diabetes is expensive, no question about it. Generally, however, insulin is usually less expensive than using several different types of oral medications. But for the Barbadian insulin user, the cost is heavily subsidised by the Government. You may pay as little as $ 12 per month, depending on the brand prescribed.

Myth: Using Insulin will change my life too much.

Fact: Many people believe that once they start insulin, they can no longer be independent, live alone, travel, or eat away from home. None of these is true. With planning, there is no reason why you cannot do everything you did before. Ask your pharmacist for assistance in educating you on how to fit insulin into your life.

Actually, many people will find that their lives will change for the better with insulin. You will have more energy, have more flexibility in your schedule, and feel more positive about yourself. After starting insulin, many people wonder why they waited so long to feel better.

Myth: Once you start taking insulin, you never stop.

Fact: Insulin shots are not always prescribed as long term diabetic treatment. Your doctor may prescribe insulin only for a short time in order to get your blood sugar levels under control or until you have changed your lifestyle.

Myth: Insulin always has to be refrigerated.

Fact: Believe it or not insulin can still be used, although it was left out of the fridge. Modern Insulin can last 30 days outside the fridge. In the event of power cuts, just place the insulin in a container of water and store it at room temperature. Obviously it is ideal to store insulin in the fridge.

Myth: It does not matter where I inject myself.

Fact: The injection site you pick can affect how quickly the insulin is absorbed. Insulin is usually absorbed faster in the abdomen – sometimes almost twice as fast – than in other sites such as the thigh or arm. Also temperature determines the speed at which insulin is absorbed into the body, so avoid taking a hot bath, shower or sauna after you take insulin. It could cause you to have a low blood sugar reaction. Gloria Yee, RN, CDE at USCF also suggests that you avoid cooling the injection area (using cold packs, for example). This can slow the absorption rate.

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