insulin

10 Fast facts about insulin

All you need to know about your medication – and how to store it.

  1. Insulin is a hormone that controls the amount of glucose in the blood. It acts as the “key” that lets glucose (from food) leave the blood and enter the cells of the body.
  2. People with diabetes either do not make enough of their own insulin (Type 1 diabetes), or the insulin their body makes is not as effective as it should be (Type 2 diabetes). As a result, most people with diabetes need to take medication, in tablet form or insulin injections.
  3. While it is often possible to control Type 2 diabetes with diet and exercise at first, eventually insulin will be necessary for most people with Type 2, as diabetes is a progressive condition.
  4. There are three different kinds of insulin: short-acting, long-acting and combination.
  5. Short-acting insulin is taken at mealtimes to cover the glucose released from the food that is being eaten.
  6. Long-acting insulin has a slow release and works as a basal (background) insulin for a number of hours – it is usually taken once or twice a day in addition to short-acting insulin.
  7. Combination insulin is a mixture of long-acting and short-acting insulin, often prescribed to Type 2 diabetics.
  8. Insulin must only be taken on prescription from a doctor, as it is essential to take the right dose (prescribed for you) at the right time.
  9. Storing insulin correctly is important: it should not get too hot (over 30°C) or freeze. Spare insulin should be kept in the fridge, and the pen you are using can be kept at room temperature for 1 month. Always keep insulin out of direct sunlight.
  10. Learning how to inject properly will make the injections as pain-free as possible.