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Diabetes: Why do type 2 diabetes patients need insulin?

If not controlled at the right time, diabetes can lead to kidney failure, partial or complete blindness, nerve problems, loss of limbs and increase the risk of a heart attack.

Insulin, which is produced by the pancreas in the body, helps control the body’s blood sugar level. Regular insulin intake along with a proper diet and exercise plan is recommended for type 2 diabetes patients to help maintain their blood sugar level. If not controlled at the right time, diabetes can lead to kidney failure, partial or complete blindness, nerve problems, loss of limbs and even increase the risk of a heart attack. However, there are several myths around injecting insulin due to lack of awareness.

A study, published in the American Medical Association’s biomedical journal JAMA Network Open, also found that the relative risk of death due to diabetes itself was much stronger among individuals who were underweight. The findings suggest that there is an urgent need to “develop diabetes management programs that are tailored to Asian populations and the subsequent strong implementation of these programs in Asia”.

Why do Type 2 diabetics need insulin?

“The pancreas, that produces digestive enzymes, is also responsible for producing insulin, a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels. Insulin helps the body use the carbohydrates in food for energy. If a patient develops Type 2 diabetes, their pancreas stop producing sufficient insulin that is required for the body to control blood sugar level”, said Dr Roopak Wadhwa, consultant, department of diabetes endocrinology and metabolism at Fortis Hospital.

According to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, people who have lived with diabetes for five or more years are between 1.5 and two times more likely to develop pancreatic cancer.

Also Read: Health tips: This particular type of beans can keep Type 2 diabetes in check

When should a Type 2 diabetic person take insulin?

“In India, we generally advise our patients to take insulin after treating them on oral medication for 8 to 10 years if they are unable to control the blood sugar level by making certain changes in their lifestyle. However there are also patients who take good measures from their end for more than 15 years and then go for insulin”, said Dr Wadhwa.

According to the American Diabetes Association, most people with type 2 diabetes may need one injection per day without any diabetes pills. It is usually recommended to take the injection around supper time or bedtime. A fixed time is usually recommended as switching time might alter the process of the body.

Tips while taking insulin injections

* Before injecting each dose, clean the injection site with rubbing alcohol.

* Change the injection needle to lessen injury or pain under the skin.

* Insulin may be injected in the stomach area, the thigh, the buttocks, or the back of the upper arm.

* Do not inject into a vein or muscle as it may lead to very low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).

* Do not rub the area after taking the injection.

* Do not inject into skin that is red, swollen, or itchy or is prone to allergies.

* Do not inject cold insulin because it can be painful. Keep the insulin container you at room temperature for about 20 minutes before injecting.

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