What is insulin?

Insulin is a hormone that is responsible for helping the body regulate the amount of sugar in the blood stream. Unmanaged hyperglycemia can have several adverse effects, including damage to the blood vessels and kidneys, various neuropathies leading to decreased sensation, and blindness. When high levels of glucose are introduced into the body, beta cells in the pancreas release insulin in order to restore glucose homeostasis in the body. Glucose is converted into glycogen so that it can be stored in the liver.

How do I know my body is making enough insulin?

When insulin is not being produced or is not being properly absorbed, it can lead to elevated levels of blood sugar. There are several ways of measuring this to determine if someone has diabetes. The glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test measures the amount of blood sugar attached to hemoglobin. A score—given as a percentage—of 6.5 or higher indicates the presence of diabetes. A fasting blood sugar test may be another measure taken, in which the patient must be refrain from food for 8 or more hours before blood glucose levels are tested. Blood sugar levels above 126mg/dL typically indicates someone is diabetic. There are several other tests that can be done to indicate someone is diabetic, with the key function being that the role of insulin is not being fulfilled in the way that the body requires.

My insulin medication doesn’t work, what is the alternative?

Man-made insulin has been used as a substitute to help regulate blood sugar, with various types, ranging from fast-acting to slow-releasing, that mimic the body’s needs when food has been presented. When using it, it is extremely important to be careful with the doses used: the human body is able to self-regulate the amounts of insulin released based on the amount of sugar present in the bloodstream. Man-made insulin must be carefully measured and administered. Not enough insulin can mean little-to-no change in elevated blood sugar levels, while too much means a hypoglycemic state can occur. It is important to follow the directions given by your doctor, and even further to monitor your energy and blood glucose levels, so that your body stays appropriately fueled.

Disclaimer: Please note that the contents of this community article are strictly for informational purposes and should not be considered as medical advice. This article, and other community articles, are not written or reviewed for medical validity by Canadian Insulin or its staff. All views and opinions expressed by the contributing authors are not endorsed by Canadian Insulin. Always consult a medical professional for medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment.