Many people with diabetes must take insulin injections to stay healthy. However, insulin therapy can cause various side effects. Insulin is a hormone that helps regulate the amount of sugar, or glucose in the blood. Insulin has a partner called glucagon, a hormone that works in the opposite way.
The body uses insulin and glucagon to ensure that blood sugar levels don’t get too high or low and cells receive enough glucose to use as energy. When blood sugar is too low, the pancreas then secretes glucagon, which causes the liver to release glucose into the bloodstream. However, people with diabetes need to take additional insulin to help keep their blood sugar levels within a normal range.
Side Effect and Risks of Insulin Injections
People with type 1 diabetes do need to take insulin, but it can cause side effects. The side effects a person experiences depend on the type of insulin they are taking. There are some common side effects of insulin injections, namely:
- Initial weight gain when cells start taking up glucose
- Blood sugar that drops too low, or hypoglycemia
- A rash, lump, or swelling appears at the injection site
- Anxiety or depression
- Cough while taking inhaled insulin
To avoid these unwanted side effects, you must consult your doctor first before using insulin injections.
Who Needs to Take Insulin?
Due to diabetes, insulin production by the pancreas and its use will be disrupted. This condition causes high blood sugar levels. However, not everyone with type 2 diabetes needs to take insulin. People with type 1 diabetes must increase their insulin supply for the rest of their lives.
There are three main types of diabetes that can use insulin injections, including:
- Type 1 Diabetes: Usually begins in childhood when a person does not produce enough insulin. The result of the immune system attacking a healthy pancreas.
- Type 2 Diabetes: It can develop at any age, but the average is 45 years. The pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or the body’s cells become resistant to it.
- Gestational Diabetes: Occurs during pregnancy and makes it difficult for a woman’s body to respond to insulin. It usually stops after delivery but increases a woman’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are usually lifelong conditions. Type 2 diabetes is the most common in many people in the world, accounting for 90-95 percent of those with diabetes.
Types of Insulin Injections
Doctors can provide safe and effective insulin therapy treatments for people with type 1 diabetes. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, there are several types of insulin that people can use alone or in combination, including:
- Fast acting insulin that starts working in 15 minutes and lasts about 3-5 hours;
- Short acting insulin that takes 30-60 minutes to start working and has a duration of 5-8 hours;
- Medium-acting insulin that takes 1-3 hours to start working but lasts 12-16 hours;
- Long-acting insulin that starts working in about 1 hour and lasts 20-26 hours;
- Premix insulin that combines fast or short-acting insulin with long-lasting insulin.
Doctors will prescribe one of these insulins or a mixture thereof in addition to a carefully controlled schedule. Following the dosage carefully reduces the risk of side effects and complications.