For people with diabetes, insulin is a nonnegotiable part of their care. Pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly recently announced a change that would allow patients with or without insurance to get their cost of insulin capped at $35 a month. Download your insulin savings card online.
What Is Insulin?
Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that lowers your blood sugar. Insulin moves sugar out of your blood and into your cells, where it can be used for energy.
Types of Insulin Injections
Some people with diabetes may need to take two different types of insulin to control their blood sugar levels. Some insulin can be bought already mixed together. This lets you inject both types of insulin in one injection. Other types of insulin can't be mixed together and you may need two separate injections.
Insulin is made at different strengths. U-100 insulin (100 units of insulin per milliliter of fluid) is the most common strength.
Factors that affect which insulin you use include:
- If you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes
- Your daily schedule of meals, work and activity
- How willing you are to check your blood sugar levels regularly
- How much exercise you get each day
- How stable your blood sugar levels are
- Your diet
How Is Insulin Given?
Currently, insulin must be given by injection into the fat layer under the skin because it must enter the bloodstream. It can't be taken by mouth because it is broken down in the stomach during digestion.
Injections are done in the arm, thigh or belly. Different sites on the body allow the insulin to enter the blood at different rates. Insulin injected into the belly works the fastest. Injecting it into the thigh works the slowest.
The timing of insulin injections is very important.
- Rapid-acting and short-acting insulin. This often needs to be given before meals or before sugar from a meal starts to enter the bloodstream.
- Intermediate-acting insulin or mixed insulin. This needs to be taken at the same time every day along with a fixed eating schedule.
- Long-acting insulin. This should be taken at the same time every day, but your mealtimes can be flexible.
Always talk with your health care provider about your insulin treatment. They can tell you where to inject the insulin, how much to inject and how often.
Diabetes Care at University Health
Get world-class diabetes care right here in San Antonio at the Texas Diabetes Institute. Find comprehensive care, pharmacy services, education classes and more.