Insulin for Type 2 Diabetes: Another Tool for Blood-Sugar Control

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Dr. Robert Gabbay, Chief Medical Officer of Joslin

Dr. Robert Gabbay, Chief Medical Officer of Joslin

This post is written by Robert A. Gabbay, MD, PhD, chief medical officer and senior vice president of Joslin Diabetes Center.

In 1920, when Dr. Frederick Banting and medical student Charles Best extracted the hormone insulin from the pancreas, they revolutionized the world of diabetes care.

Insulin works by moving the sugar or glucose obtained from food into your body’s cells, which is then used for energy. People with diabetes either don’t make enough insulin, or their bodies don’t effectively use the insulin they produce.

While insulin is commonly associated with the treatment of type 1 diabetes, many people with type 2 diabetes use insulin as a regular part of their diabetes therapy. But some people with type 2 diabetes view the use of insulin as a failure. This is not the case. The reality is that for some  with type 2 diabetes, insulin is simply a necessary and beneficial addition to their diabetes management.

When prescribing insulin to my patients with type 2 diabetes, I often get the following questions:

Why would someone who has been controlling their type 2 diabetes with diet and exercise need to start taking insulin?

There are several reasons why patients with type 2 diabetes would require insulin, even if they hadn’t needed it before:

  • Temporary insulin usage: Situations like pregnancy, surgery, broken bones, cancer, or taking steroidal medicines (like prednisone) can require some people to take insulin for a short time.
  • Permanent insulin usage: If the pancreas becomes unable to produce enough insulin, as often happens with aging, people can become insulin-resistant due to weight gain or chronic emotional or physical stress. To put it simply, there are circumstances when pills are no longer sufficient to control type 2 diabetes.

So it’s not usually “bad” behavior that would cause someone to start insulin?

That is correct; however, not sticking to a healthy diet and exercise plan could result in high blood glucose levels that only insulin can control.

Is insulin dosage different for someone who has type 2 rather than type 1 diabetes?

Insulin doses vary for both types, with either type potentially requiring very little or a lot of medication. It all depends on a patient’s weight, eating habits, exercise levels, other illnesses, and level of insulin resistance.

Can someone start taking insulin and then not need to take it anymore?

Sometimes, but only people with type 2 diabetes. Additionally, in some cases, people can stop taking insulin if they reduce their weight and/or exercise more. Also, if any of the temporary situations listed above resolve, you may be able to stop taking insulin.

That being said, at Joslin Diabetes Center we never view taking insulin as a failure. Instead we see insulin as a way for patients with type 1 or type 2 diabetes to control their blood sugar and prevent complications.

This article appears courtesy of Everyday

Do you need help managing your diabetes? Learn more about theAdult Clinic at Joslin Diabetes Center.

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4 Responses to Insulin for Type 2 Diabetes: Another Tool for Blood-Sugar Control

  1. Jenny hazard says:

    Information on the biometric surgery

  2. A neighbor of ours has a child with diabetes, although which type escapes me, and I really have no idea about any of the details involved. As I understand it, those with diabetes need to have a very healthy diet and exercise plan, as well as insulin to help where needed(?). We will soon have a child in our family and I am glad that there are posts out there like this to help understand better.

  3. Susan Work says:

    Now that I am post-menopausal, it is virtually impossible to lose weight using insulin w T2. I have used it for over 15 years and have only gained more and more weight. Is there any study that shows success with specific diet, as I have tried them all: ketogenic, vegan, raw, LCHF, moderate carb, etc. Only getting sicker with higher A1Cs (up to 9.1) and feeling awful.

  4. dr feghoul says:

    Insuliner des DT2 ne peut se concevoir qu ‘avec des patients non compliants.Insuline ne peut qu ‘etre deletere aggravant la dysfonction endotheliale surtout avec les prémélangés !

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