Insulin injections are often prescribed to patients with diabetes. Here is a brief look at what these injections are and what to expect if you are starting on insulin.
What Is Insulin?
Insulin is a hormone that is made by the pancreas. It controls how much sugar is in the blood.
Diabetes is a disease in which the body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use insulin properly. It is important for people with diabetes to keep their blood sugar levels in a healthy range.
Is Taking Insulin For Diabetes A Bad Thing?
No, taking insulin for diabetes is not a bad thing.
In fact, for many people with diabetes, insulin is a life-saving medication that helps manage blood sugar levels and prevent serious complications.
Insulin is a natural hormone that is normally produced by the pancreas to regulate blood glucose levels. However, in people with diabetes, the pancreas may not produce enough insulin, or the body may be unable to use insulin effectively. This may happen early on in diabetes or later during the course of the disease.
In such cases, insulin therapy is necessary to keep blood glucose levels within a safe range.
Insulin therapy has been used to treat diabetes for over a century and is considered a safe and effective treatment.
Insulin can be delivered by injection using a syringe or insulin pen, or through an insulin pump. While insulin therapy may have some side effects, such as low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) or weight gain, these can generally be managed with careful monitoring and adjustment of the insulin dose.
Types Of Insulin
There are several types of insulin available, which differ in terms of their onset, peak, and duration of action. The main types of insulin are:
Rapid-acting insulin: starts to work within 15 minutes and lasts for up to four hours.
Short-acting insulin: starts to work within 30 minutes and lasts for up to eight hours.
Intermediate-acting insulin: starts to work within two to four hours and lasts for up to 18 hours.
Long-acting insulin: starts to work within two to four hours and lasts for up to 24 hours.
Ultra-long-acting insulin: starts to work within six hours and lasts for up to 42 hours.
The mechanism of action of insulin is to help glucose enter the body’s cells to be used as energy. People with diabetes have bodies that cannot use insulin effectively, so they need to inject insulin to regulate their blood sugar levels.
Using Insulin At Home
To use insulin at home, people with diabetes should follow the general steps I have listed below. More detailed instructions are available here.
It is very important to follow the instructions that the doctor or pharmacist gives for the type of insulin that is being used. They will also provide guidance on how often to test blood sugar levels, how to adjust insulin dosages, and when to seek medical attention for any concerns or issues.
Why Are People Not Too Keen On Insulin Injections?
Patients with diabetes may consider insulin injections to be a bad thing for several reasons, including:
a. Fear of needles: Many people have a fear of needles, which can make the idea of injecting themselves with insulin uncomfortable and daunting.
b. Pain or discomfort: Some patients may experience pain or discomfort at the injection site, particularly if they inject themselves in the same spot repeatedly.
c. Social stigma: There may be a social stigma associated with insulin injections, with some people believing that it is a sign of failure to manage one’s diabetes through other means such as diet and exercise.
d. Inconvenience: Insulin injections require careful planning and scheduling to ensure that they are taken at the right times throughout the day, which can be inconvenient for some patients.
e. Cost: Insulin injections can be expensive, particularly for those without insurance coverage, which can make it difficult for some patients to afford their medication.
f. Fear: Patients are worried that insulin is the last resort in treating diabetes and that they have reached an end stage in treatment. Fortunately, this is a false notion. Some people just respond better to insulin than to tablets.
Storing Insulin Injections
Insulin injections should be stored properly to maintain their potency and ensure they are safe to use. Here are some general guidelines for storing insulin:
Follow the storage instructions provided with your insulin, as different types of insulin may have specific storage requirements.
Store unopened insulin in the refrigerator between 36°F and 46°F (2°C and 8°C). Do not freeze insulin, and do not use it if it has been frozen.
Keep insulin away from direct heat and light, such as sunlight or lamps.
Insulin in use can be kept at room temperature, usually between 59°F and 86°F (15°C and 30°C), for a short period of time, according to the specific instructions of your insulin brand. Avoid storing insulin in extreme temperatures, such as in a hot car or cold freezer.
Check the expiration date on your insulin before using it. Do not use expired insulin.
Do not shake insulin vigorously before use, as this can affect its potency. Instead, roll the bottle or pen between your hands to mix it appropriately.
Always store insulin in a clean, dry place to avoid contamination.
What Is The Cost Of Insulin Injections In India?
The cost of insulin in India can vary widely depending on the type of insulin, brand, and location of the pharmacy.
On average, the cost of a 10ml vial of human insulin ranges from about INR 200 to INR 800 (equivalent to approximately USD 2.5 to USD 10) in India.
The cost of insulin analogs, which are a newer type of insulin that works faster and more predictably than human insulin, can range from INR 800 to INR 2500 (equivalent to approximately USD 10 to USD 35) per 10ml vial.
It is important to note that the cost of insulin can be a significant burden for many people with diabetes, particularly those who require large doses of insulin or who do not have insurance coverage.
To address this issue, the Indian government has implemented various initiatives to make insulin more affordable and accessible to people with diabetes, such as the Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana scheme, which provides generic medicines, including insulin, at lower prices than brand-name medications.
Additionally, some pharmaceutical companies offer patient assistance programs or discounts on insulin for eligible patients.
Insulin Injection Side Effects
Insulin injections are generally safe and well-tolerated when used as prescribed. However, like any medication, insulin injections may cause side effects. Some common side effects of insulin injections include:
Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
Insulin injections can cause low blood sugar if too much insulin is taken, if meals are missed or delayed, or if the timing of the insulin injection is not properly coordinated with food intake or exercise. Symptoms of hypoglycemia include shakiness, sweating, confusion, dizziness, and in severe cases, seizures or unconsciousness.
Injection site reactions
Some patients may experience redness, swelling, or itching at the injection site. These reactions are usually mild and go away on their own within a few days.
Insulin injections can cause weight gain, particularly if the dose of insulin is too high or if the patient does not follow a healthy diet and exercise regimen.
In rare cases, patients may experience an allergic reaction to insulin injections, which can cause symptoms such as itching, hives, difficulty breathing, or swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Repeated injections of insulin in the same area can cause fat to accumulate or be depleted, resulting in lumps or indentations at the injection site. This can lead to erratic absorption of insulin. This can lead to fluctuations in blood glucose levels.
It is important for patients to work closely with their doctor or diabetes nurse to monitor their blood sugar levels, adjust insulin dosages as needed, and report any side effects they may experience. In some cases, alternative insulin delivery methods, such as insulin pens or pumps, may be recommended to reduce the risk of side effects.
Insulin injections are often required for patients with diabetes. It is an excellent treatment that can help bring sugar levels under control easily and effectively.