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Tips for Treating Diabetes With Insulin

WebMD Feature

When you first start taking insulin, you may have some concerns about the impact on your daily life. But insulin treatment is easier to manage if you keep these simple guidelines in mind.

Taking Insulin Doesn't Mean You've Failed at Managing Your Diabetes

Nora Saul, RD, a nutrition manager with the Joslin Diabetes Centers in Boston, says she often hears patients say, "I'm eating better and more healthfully. So why am I being put on insulin?"

It can be helpful to remember that getting put on insulin doesn't mean you’re a failure at keeping diabetes in check through lifestyle changes.

The natural progression of type 2 diabetes often means that, over time, your body may produce less and less insulin. So eventually you will need to get insulin through injections.

"That doesn't mean it's your fault," Saul says. "By about 10 or 15 years of living with diabetes, most people are tending toward insulin. This is a way that you can get your blood sugars back under control and reduce the possibility of complications. It'll give you more control than oral agents can, and you will probably feel better, with more energy."

Insulin Doesn't Lead to Complications

You don't have to worry that insulin is risky to your health. "People used to develop complications shortly after going on insulin in the past," Saul says, "because in those days patients were put on insulin as a last resort. The time to start is when your sugars are still in reasonable control. Insulin does not cause [diabetes] complications, and if used appropriately and in time, it will prevent complications."

Giving Yourself Insulin Shots Doesn't Have to Hurt

Some people with diabetes say they had concerns at first that insulin shots would be painful. But they soon realized their fears were unfounded.

"You usually give yourself a shot on your stomach or your thighs, and it's not that sensitive," says Tammy Williams, a North Carolina children's librarian with type 2 diabetes. "I actually think the finger prick when you test your blood sugar hurts much more, because your fingers are more sensitive."

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If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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