Using Insulin in the Treatment of Diabetes

Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas which is vital to help our body cells absorb and utilise glucose as energy.  Patients with Type 2 diabetes are not able to use insulin efficiently (insulin resistance) and/or do not produce enough insulin (insulin deficiency) while patients with Type 1 diabetes make little or no insulin at all.

The Aim of Treatment in Diabetes is to reduce diabetes related complications by targeting control of glucose, blood pressure, lipids and body weight at the same time using diet, lifestyle modification, weight loss (if you are overweight) and medication.

Goals of insulin therapy

Insulin treatment is essential for Type 1 Diabetes to replace the insulin which the body is not able to produce.  Although most Type 2 Diabetes can be treated with a combination of diet, lifestyle modification and oral medication, sometimes your doctor may advise the addition of Insulin to help control the blood glucose within your optimum desired range and prevent large fluctuations in your blood sugar throughout the day.

Click to view Boston Medical Centre video on Safe Insulin Use

Types of Insulin

There are several types of Insulin available and they vary in how quickly and how long they can control blood sugar. Your doctor may recommend combining more than 1 type of insulin for your condition.  This chart gives average speeds of onset and duration of effect of the different types of insulin.  Do follow your doctor’s advice on when and how to take your insulin (known as Insulin Regime).

Insulin TypeSpeed OnsetWhen it PeaksDuration
Rapid actingwithin 15 mins1 hour2-4 hours
Short actingwithin 30 mins2-3 hours3-6 hours
Intermediate acting2-4 hours4-12 hours12-18 hours
Long actingseveral hoursno peak24 hours

Insulin delivery options

Your Diabetic Care Team or doctor will help you decide which Insulin delivery option is best for you depending on your health condition and lifestyle.  You will need to be disciplined in monitoring your blood glucose several times a day when you use Insulin to prevent sudden drops in blood glucose known as Hypoglycemia.  These are some of the delivery options available;

  • Pre-filled Insulin Pens where Insulin can be injected using a pen-like device that holds insulin with a needle attached. This can be used multiple times each day
  • Insulin pump which automatically pushes small and steady doses of rapid-acting insulin into a thin tube inserted underneath your skin throughout the day
Image DiabetesDaily

Tips on How to Inject Insulin Safely

Insulin should be injected into body tissue and fat under the skin and NOT into the muscle.  The needle should be angled at 90 degrees (perpendicular) to the body to reduce the risk of hitting blood vessels.  Avoid injecting at the same site all the time and each new site should be half inch away (or 1 finger width) from the previous injection site to prevent lumps appearing.  The recommended injection sites are the abdomen, buttocks, upper thighs and upper arms. 

Image BBraun
  • DO change injections sites for each injection
  • DO use a new needle for each injection
  • DO inject at a different site (around 1 finger width) from previous injection site
  • DON’T move from 1 part of the body to another (such as from stomach to thigh) but stay within the same zone
  • DON’T inject into hard fatty lumps or scar tissue in your body

Click to view Boston Medical Centre video on How to inject insulin with a Pen

  • Wash your hands and pat dry
  • Check the pen that it has NOT expired
  • Check the number of units is CORRECT
  • Wipe the area for injection with alcohol swab and wait to dry
  • Pinch a fold of skin with your fingers

Take time to discuss your condition with your doctor, dietician/nutritionist, diabetic educator or pharmacist to improve your diabetic control and AVOID diabetic related health complications.

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Disclaimer. TELEME blog posts contains general information about health conditions and treatments. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The information is not advice and should not be treated as such. 

If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition, you should seek immediate medical attention from your doctor or other professional healthcare providers. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.

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