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How Insulin Can Help You Control Your Blood Sugar

Content provided by: Better Medicine from Healthgrades

Along with healthy foods and daily activity, insulin plays a major role in managing diabetes. This sheet explains how insulin helps keep your blood sugar level within a healthy range. It also helps you become more comfortable with taking insulin every day.

What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a problem with a hormone called insulin. When you eat, your pancreas releases insulin to help your body turn food into energy. Insulin does this by helping glucose (sugar) enter the cells from your blood. When you have diabetes, your pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin. Or your cells don’t respond to insulin the way they should. Without insulin, glucose can’t get into your cells. It builds up in your bloodstream instead, leading to a higher and higher blood sugar level. Over time, high blood sugar can damage your heart, blood vessels, eyes, nerves, and kidneys. It also greatly increases your chance of dying of heart attack or stroke. Keeping your blood sugar as close to normal as possible can prevent serious health problems. It might even save your life.

How Does Insulin Control Diabetes?

  • Man-made insulin replaces the insulin your body doesn’t produce naturally. Like your own insulin, it helps glucose enter the cells, so your blood sugar level stays within a healthy range.

  • There are many types of insulin. Some work quickly, but the effects last only a short time. Others work more slowly, but provide a steady level of insulin longer. Often, you may need a combination of the two types. For instance, you might take fast-acting insulin before meals and a longer-acting insulin for the times between meals. Your healthcare provider has prescribed a medication plan that includes insulin to help keep your blood sugar controlled throughout the day.

  • Here are just some of the benefits you gain by keeping your blood sugar in a healthy range:

    • Reduced risk of heart attack, stroke, blindness, or limb loss

    • Reduced risk of kidney failure and the need for dialysis

    • Reduced risk of disability

    • Increased chance for a longer, healthier life

What Action Should You Take?

  • Use this medication as often as recommended by your healthcare provider. Develop a daily routine so that it’s easy to remember.

  • If you have any questions about insulin use, be sure to talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist. You should know how to adjust your dosage based on your blood sugar goal, meal plan, and activity level. If you don’t understand something, don’t be afraid to ask.

  • Carefully follow the eating plan your healthcare provider gave you. This is an important part of managing your diabetes and ensures that your medication works properly. Staying active and testing your blood sugar are also essential parts of treatment

  • Once you have started on this medication, don’t stop taking it without talking to your healthcare provider, even if you are feeling better. Stopping can cause a dangerous rise in blood sugar. If your healthcare provider recommends stopping, follow all instructions carefully.

  • Refill your prescription while you still have a little medication left. If you use mail order, be sure to place your order with enough time for the medication to arrive before you run out.

  • Prepare a small travel kit so you can take your medication with you. Include a blood glucose meter, lancet, and fast-acting sugar as well as your insulin, needles, and syringes.

  • If your family and friends don’t understand diabetes or aren’t taking your diagnosis seriously, ask them to learn along with you. Managing diabetes can be a lot to handle. Don’t be afraid to ask for support.

Last Annual Review Date: 2011-01-11 Copyright: 2011 Krames Staywell
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