Insulin – What is it, how does it work and what is its importance?

Insulin is a hormone made in the pancreas, a gland located behind the stomach.

This hormone is of great importance for the body since it allows glucose to be used for energy and keeps its levels stable.

In other words, the insulin allows you to use the energy from carbohydrates, but it helps prevent your blood sugar from rising too high (hyperglycemia) or too low (hypoglycemia).

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How does insulin work?

The cells in your body need sugar for energy. However, sugar cannot enter cells directly.

After eating carbohydrate foods, the body processes them, and blood sugar levels rise; at this time, the body signals the cells of the pancreas to release insulin into the bloodstream.

The insulin then attaches itself to the cells and allows the glucose to enter, used later as an energy source. For this reason, it is often described as a “key,” which opens the cell to allow blood sugar to be used.

Importance of insulin

Insulin is most important in balancing blood glucose levels. When too much glucose is in the bloodstream, insulin signals your body to store the excess in the liver.

Stored glucose isn’t released until blood glucose levels drop – between meals or when your body needs an extra energy boost, such as during physical activity.

Therefore, insulin helps balance blood sugar levels and keeps them in a normal range. As blood sugar levels rise, the pancreas secretes more of this hormone.

If your body does not produce enough insulin or your cells are resistant to it, you can develop hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels), which can cause long-term complications.

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diabetes and insulin

Diabetes occurs when your body does not use insulin properly or does not make enough of it. There are two types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2.

If you have type 1 diabetes, your body cannot make insulin. This is because your immune system has destroyed all the insulin-producing cells in your pancreas. This disease is most often diagnosed in young people, although it can develop in adulthood.

In type 2 diabetes, your body has become resistant to the effects of insulin. This means that your body needs more of it to get the same impact. Therefore, your body produces excess insulin to maintain normal blood glucose levels.

After many years of overproduction, the pancreas’ insulin-producing cells are destroyed. Type 2 diabetes affects people of any age, but it usually develops in adulthood due to an unbalanced diet.

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Insulin injections for diabetics

Insulin injections can help treat both types of diabetes. It acts as a replacement or supplement for the insulin that your body produces naturally when injected.

People with type 1 diabetes cannot make insulin, so they must take insulin shots to control their blood sugar levels.

Many people with type 2 diabetes can control their blood glucose levels with lifestyle changes, diet, and oral medications.

However, if these treatments are not enough, they may need injectable insulin to help control their blood glucose levels.

RELATED: How to inject insulin?

Administration and dosage

Insulin cannot be administered orally. It must be injected with a syringe, pen, or pump. The insulin injection you use will be based on your personal preferences, health needs, and availability at your medical service.

Your doctor will show you how to give yourself the injections. You can inject insulin under the skin in many different parts of your body, such as:

  • Abdomen
  • Thighs
  • Buttocks
  • Upper arms

Do not inject insulin 5 cm from your belly button because your body will not absorb it well. You should vary the location of the injections to avoid thickening of the skin due to constant exposure to this hormone.

Types of insulin treatments

Injectable insulin varies from person to person based on their blood glucose levels and diabetes control goals.

The amount of insulin you will need each day depends on your diet, level of physical activity, and the severity of your diabetes.

Some people only need one insulin shot a day. Others need three or four. Your doctor may also instruct you to use both short-acting and long-acting insulin.

All types of insulin have the same effect. They mimic the natural increases and decreases in the levels of this hormone in the body during the day. The composition of the different types affects the speed and duration of their action. The types of insulin treatments are:

  • Fast-acting: this type of insulin begins to work approximately 15 minutes after the injection. Its effects can last between three and four hours. It is usually used before a meal.
  • Short-acting: This insulin is injected before a meal. It starts to work 30 to 60 minutes after the injection and lasts for five to eight hours.
  • Intermediate-acting: This type of insulin begins to act one to two hours after the injection, and its effects can last from 14 to 16 hours.
  • Long-acting: This insulin may not start working until about two hours after injecting it. Its effects can last up to 24 hours or more.

RELATED: Gestational Diabetes – Symptoms, Causes, and Diet

Adverse reactions and possible side effects

Hypoglycemia, or blood glucose levels that are too low can sometimes occur when insulin is given. This is called an insulin reaction.

If you exercise too much or don’t eat enough, your glucose level can drop too low and trigger an insulin reaction. It would help if you balanced the dose that is given with food. The symptoms of insulin reactions are:

  • fatigue
  • inability to speak
  • perspiration
  • confusion
  • loss of consciousness
  • seizures
  • muscle spasms
  • pale skin

To stop the effects of an insulin reaction, carry at least 15 grams of a fast carbohydrate (foods with sugar) with you.

ABSTRACT

Insulin is an essential hormone for obtaining energy from carbohydrates and maintaining blood glucose levels.

It works like a key that allows cells to be opened to use the sugar in the bloodstream.

People who are unable or resistant to insulin develop diabetes.

Some people with diabetes may need insulin injections to help keep their blood glucose levels in a healthy range.

Healthy blood glucose levels help reduce the risk of diabetes complications, such as blindness and loss of limbs.

Making lifestyle changes is essential to keep your blood glucose from getting too high. If you need injections, talk to your doctor about ways to make your insulin treatment as effective as possible.

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