What does insulin do for the body?
Part of a recent series on diabetes education, Nurse Practitioner with Prisma Health Endocrinology and Thyroid Specialists Brittany Maffett, DNP, spoke about insulin, an essential hormone used by the body that plays an important role in maintaining your health. But what does insulin do for the body, and how does it help people with diabetes?
“Insulin helps to carry glucose into our cells so that it can be used for energy,” said Maffett. People who are not producing enough naturally, or who cannot use it appropriately, may need to take it to keep their blood sugar balanced.
Maffett noted that some people may resist taking insulin despite it being recommended to them out of a fear of needles and shots, fear of blood sugar becoming too low afterward or worry that it may interfere with their ability to maintain employment. Some may have loved ones who responded poorly to it in the past, as well.
“Not taking insulin when recommended, when you are not able to make enough naturally, can result in a life-threatening emergency called diabetic ketoacidosis,” said Maffett. “If you are using it inappropriately, you may have chronic high blood sugar that eventually damages your organs or causes future complications.”
She also described the different types of insulin and the technology used to help deliver it in more targeted ways that help you to maintain a healthy blood sugar level throughout the day, including syringes that draw from a vial, a pin that doesn’t require use of a vial, pumps that are consistently worn day and night and even inhaled insulin.
Finally, she offered tips on how to ensure you’re taking insulin correctly and getting the best benefit.
“Know when your insulin starts working, when it’s working the strongest and how long it lasts in your body,” said Maffett. “Knowing these things will allow you to time it appropriately so that it covers your blood sugar correctly and doesn’t result in too-high or too-low blood sugar.”
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