Type 2 diabetics: Insulin is not the enemy

If insulin is prescribed don’t see it as a failure, rather see it as an effective step that will help give you the best treatment and control of your diabetes. Living well with diabetes is your goal!

Being prescribed insulin can improve type 2 diabetics lives. | Photo by Morgue File
Being prescribed insulin can improve type 2 diabetics lives. | Photo by Morgue File

When we think about the latest and greatest discoveries in medicine, insulin ranks near the top of the list. For people with type 1 diabetes (T1D) the discovery of insulin as a treatment for their diabetes was, and continues to be lifesaving. The same can be said about type 2 diabetes (T2D) should the time come to begin treating diabetes with insulin.

If insulin is such an effective medication used to control blood sugar why does it get such a bad rap?

Ironically, for many with T2 diabetes going on insulin is perceived as a sign of failure. This perception has to do in part with how diabetes was treated in the past. Years ago diabetes was not as controlled as it is today. Another misconception is that insulin is a drug, it is not. Insulin is a natural hormone produced in the pancreas. Insulin allows the body to use sugar (glucose) from food for energy or to store glucose for future use.

Today a combination of improvements in insulin, earlier diagnosis of diabetes and better management of blood-glucose monitoring all contribute to better diabetes management. One of the best ways to avoid diabetes complications is by keeping your blood glucose controlled. Insulin can help control T2D.

Type 2 diabetes management & insulin

Over the years, improvements to insulin have brought significant health benefits for diabetics. Pumps and pens can help calculate insulin doses. The Joslin Center for Diabetes offers an insulin guide to explain how insulin works and is administered in the body. Types of insulin include,

  • Rapid-acting
  • Short-acting
  • Intermediate-acting
  • Long-acting

For individuals with T2D being moved from pills to insulin, or pills combined with insulin doesn’t mean that you’ve failed in your diabetes self-management. There could be many factors that play into your healthcare provider prescribing insulin, such as,

  • The length of time you’ve had T2D
  • Age
  • Other chronic conditions
  • T2D changes over time so does the way our bodies react to those changes
  • Your A1C (also called, glycated hemoglobin, glycosylated hemoglobin, hemoglobin A1C and HbA1c) as well as other fasting/non-fasting tests indicate the need for better control of your blood sugar

Living well with diabetes is your goal! Work with your healthcare provider to understand your medication options for T2D. If insulin is prescribed, see it as an effective step to ensure you’re getting the best treatment and control of your diabetes. 

For more information on diabetes, and to find diabetes self –management support in your community visit Michigan State University Extension

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