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A doctor explains how type 2 diabetes patients can tell if they'll do best on insulin

by , 21 February 2017
A doctor explains how type 2 diabetes patients can tell if they'll do best on insulin
Blood sugar regulation is undoubtedly the most important part of type 2 diabetes management.

While some type 2 diabetes patients are able to keep their blood sugar steady by making lifestyle changes such as exercising regularly and losing weight, others need to take insulin by injection to keep their condition under control.

If you're diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, you're probably wondering how you can tell if you'll do best on insulin. The short answer, according to Dr Richard Hellman, former president of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, is that there's no simple way to tell.

That said, if you can't seem to lower your A1C with diet, exercise and other diabetes medications, you may just need insulin to help you do the job. Dr Hellman explains, “In general, if a patient has a hemoglobin A1C that is higher than the agreed upon goal and they are not on insulin, we recommend insulin therapy.”

Read on to find out more...

The American Diabetes Association recommends an A1C of 7% or below

According to Dr Hellman, The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends an A1C of 7% or below. The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologist recommends an even lower A1C of 6.5% or below. But, like with everything, there are exceptions to this rule, Dr Hellman says...
Dr Hellman explains that while you may seem like a good candidate to take insulin to control your type 2 diabetes, you might not be able to manage it if you have vision or mobility problems or no family support.
Currently, there are four different types of insulin. They vary by the amount of time they work at maximum strength, how slowly or quickly they reach your bloodstream and how long they continue to be effective. If you need insulin – short- or long-term – to control your blood sugar, your doctor will prescribe one of these four different types.

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Insulin works by mimicking the rhythm of healthy pancreas

There’s one thing that all types of insulin have in common, and that’s to replicate the natural rhythm of healthy pancreas. Your pancreas consistently produces low levels of hormones and occasional bursts of insulin. This helps your body cope with blood sugar spikes after you eat.
If you’re trying to determine whether or not your body needs injected insulin, the ADA recommends asking yourself the following questions:
  • How long have you had type 2 diabetes for?
  • What’s your blood glucose levels?
  • Do you have any other health problems?
  • Are you on any other medications?

As your type 2 diabetes progresses, you become more likely to need insulin

As your condition develops, your need for insulin injections increases. This is because in type 2 diabetes, your body is resistant to insulin, and so your beta cells in your pancreas churn out insulin as quickly as possible to fight insulin resistance. 
Eventually, this strenuous task can exhaust your beta cells; diminishing their ability to produce insulin. Even worse, it may result in your beta cells being unable to produce any insulin at all!
It’s important to understand that diabetes is a progressive disease. Sometimes, people are only diagnosed with the condition many years after its onset. In such a case, your beta cells will have gone too far to salvage and you may need to take insulin injections for the rest of your life to control the condition. On the flip side, early treatment to regulate your blood sugar levels can save your beta cells.
For more information on insulin for type 2 diabetes control, have a chat with your doctor.

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