Insulin is a naturally occurring hormone that the pancreas produces. The body needs insulin to process sugar, which the body uses for energy. Diabetes is the name of the disease that people whose pancreas does not produce enough insulin have. People with Type I diabetes have a pancreas that does not produce any insulin. People with Type II diabetes are when the pancreas produces insulin but the body does not use the insulin effectively. The pancreas in people who have diabetes either does not produce insulin at all or does not produce enough insulin the person's body no longer uses the insulin correctly.
Currently beef and pork pancreas are manufacturers derive insulin from. Now there is recombinant insulin, which is human insulin. The manufactured insulin is necessary for people who have Type I Diabetes and sometimes people with Type II Diabetes need insulin therapy as well. Patients with diabetes inject the insulin into their abdomen to replace the insulin they do not have or to improve the functionality of the insulin they do have (in the case of Type II Diabetes).
There are several different types of insulin and doctors prescribe the type that best meets the needs of the patient they are treating. Types of insulin include rapid acting, long acting, short acting, intermediate acting and premixed insulin.
Insulin Warnings and Precautions
Patients should tell their doctor if they suffer from kidney disease, liver disease, any allergies and eye problems or issues with dexterity.
People with diabetes who need insulin inject the insulin into their abdomen on a schedule that their doctor prescribes. Patients with diabetes must check their blood sugar levels and adjust their insulin dosages so as to avoid taking too much insulin or taking too little insulin.
Insulin Side Effects
Some side effects of insulin include irritation or redness at the site of the injection, weight gain, high blood sugar if not enough insulin is taken, low blood sugar if too much insulin is taken, and thickening skin or pitted skin at the site of the injection.
Serious side effects of insulin use include allergic reactions, which manifest in hives, rashes, itching, swelling of the throat or mouth and wheezing or difficulty breathing. Another potential side effect is the development of diabetic ketoacidosis, which is due to excessive blood sugar levels over a long period of time. Symptoms of ketoacidosis include sweet smelling breath, nausea and vomiting, increased urination or thirst, fever, confusion and unconsciousness.
Drugs that increase lower the amount of blood glucose to dangerous levels include alcohol, aspirin, anabolic steroids, beta-blockers and MAO inhibitors. These drugs may change the action of insulin potentially causing hypoglycemia.
Some medications can change the way insulin acts, but to a lesser degree. These drugs include, oral hypoglycemic drugs, sulfa antibiotics, ACE inhibitors, tetracycline antibiotics and guanethidine.
Other drugs that may impact the effectiveness of insulin in diabetic patients include oral contraceptives, corticosteroids, estrogens, thyroid hormones, epinephrine, diuretics and diltiazem.
Women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant should discuss their insulin choices with their physician. The safety record of some insulin and its affect on unborn fetuses is not available for all types of insulin. Women who are breastfeeding must check their blood sugar levels and those of their baby to monitor their blood glucose levels as insulin can pass into breast milk.
Insulin overdose can happen easily if a person does not regularly check their blood sugar and continues to inject insulin without knowing if they really need to inject more insulin. Symptoms of insulin overdose include, sweating, dizziness, cold sweats, shaking, extreme hunger, blurry vision, loss of consciousness, seizures, difficulty speaking, confusion, changes in behavior, loss of coordination, coma and loss of life.
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