People with type I diabetes and some people with type 2 diabetes may need to inject or inhale insulin to keep their blood sugar levels from becoming too high.
Various types of insulin are available, and most are grouped by how long their effect lasts. There are rapid, regular, intermediate, and long-acting insulins.
Some people will use a long-acting insulin injection to maintain consistently low blood sugar levels. Some people may use short-acting insulin or a combination of insulin types. Whatever the type, a person will usually check their blood glucose levels using a fingerstick.
This method of checking blood sugar levels involves using a special, portable machine called a glucometer. A person with type I diabetes will then use the reading of their blood sugar level to determine how much insulin they need.
Self-monitoring is the only way a person can find out their blood sugar levels. Assuming the level from any physical symptoms that occur may be dangerous unless a person suspects extremely low glucose and thinks they need a rapid dose of glucose.
The discovery of insulin was fascinating and controversial. Click here to learn more.
How much is too much?
Insulin helps people with diabetes live an active lifestyle. However, it can lead to serious side effects, especially if a person administers too much.
Excessive insulin can cause hypoglycemia, or extremely low blood sugar, and lead to nausea, sweating, and shaking.
It is essential that people measure insulin carefully and eat a consistent diet that balances blood sugar levels as much as possible.
In addition to insulin, other types of medication are available that can help a person to manage their condition.
For type 2 diabetes, a doctor may prescribe metformin in pill or liquid form.
It contributes to:
lowering blood sugar
making insulin more effective
It can also help in weight loss. Having a healthy weight can reduce the impact of diabetes.
As well as diabetes, a person may also have other health risks, and they may need medication to control these. A doctor will advise the individual about their needs.
SGLT2 inhibitors and GLP-1 receptor agonists
In 2018, new guidelines also recommended prescribing additional drugs for people with:
atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease
These are sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors or glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists.
For those with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and a high risk of heart failure, the guidelines advise doctors to prescribe an SGLT2 inhibitor.
GLP-1 receptor agonists work by increasing the amount of insulin the body produces and decreasing the amount of glucose that enters the bloodstream. It is an injectable drug. People may use it with metformin or alone. Side effects include gastrointestinal problems, such as nausea and a loss of appetite.
SLGT2 inhibitors are a new type of drug for lowering blood glucose levels. They work separately from insulin, and they may be useful for people who are not ready to start using insulin. People can take it by mouth. Side effects include a higher risk of urinary and genital infections and ketoacidosis.