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People with type 1 diabetes and some with type 2 diabetes will need to take insulin as part of their treatment plan. Ask questions to understand your insulin treatment so you can be active in managing your diabetes.
Insulin molecules are delicate. Insulin is destroyed by enzymes in the stomach or intestine. For this reason, insulin is not given in pill form. It is either injected under the skin or inhaled into the lungs.
You may use more than one type of insulin. The different types of insulin are described below. It is important to know the onset, peak, and duration of the type of insulin you take. The onset is when it starts lowering blood glucose. The peak is when it works the strongest. The duration is how long it works.
Insulin comes in different strengths. The most common strength is U-100, or 100 units per 1 mL of insulin. It is important to make sure you are using the right strength of insulin with the right syringe.
Some terms that you might hear include:
Basal insulin or background insulin
This may also be called a correction dose or supplemental dose. This is a small amount of rapid-acting or short-acting insulin that can be used to lower your blood glucose if it is too high. You may be told to check your blood glucose at certain times of the day and use correction insulin as needed.
Tight control, intensive therapy, or basal-bolus insulin therapy
These terms are used for insulin plans that keep your blood glucose as close to your target as possible. They prevent your blood glucose from getting too high at any time of day, but especially after meals. People who have tight control of their diabetes have fewer long-term problems caused by diabetes.
Insulins are also available as mixtures of basal and bolus insulins. Using a premixed insulin decreases the number of injections you might need everyday. Talk to your health care provider to see if an insulin mixture is right for you.
Some of these side effects can be caused by incorrect insulin doses and improper injection technique. Be sure to learn how to inject insulin properly.
Usually, you will give yourself insulin injections. Other people can also be taught how to give you injections. You will use a type of syringe that is made only for insulin. Some people may have an insulin pump that delivers insulin steadily through a tube (cannula) that is placed under the skin.
Insulin is also available in an inhaled form. An inhaler delivers bolus insulin doses. Inhaled insulin does not require injections, but most people will still need to use basal insulin that is injected.
Eating and drinking
This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.
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