Four Common Myths and Facts About Insulin

Many people associate insulin with a difficult, painful, or potentially scary medical treatment, where scary needles has to be used daily in multiple times. In case of type 1 diabetes, insulin is the only treatment. However, if you have type 2 diabetes, you need to know the truth/fact about insulin before you can make an informed choice about whether or not to use insulin, which can be potentially lifesaving therapy. Some common myths and facts are discussed here, which are usually in case of type 2 diabetes and not for type 1 diabetes, because in type 1 diabetes, there is no alternative treatment:

Myth: once you start insulin, you have to continue it lifelong.

Fact: this is not true. Person with type 2 diabetes may need insulin temporarily, such as during pregnancy (because oral drugs are not safe for the fetus during pregnancy), to tide over major infection or major trauma such as surgery type 2 diabetes patients need insulin temporarily. Actually need of insulin depends on the extent of damage to the insulin producing cells of pancreas. If there is no substantial damage, insulin can be withdrawn later. Generally, if a type 2 diabetes patient has very high blood sugar at the time of diagnosis or during treatment with oral medications (oral hypoglycemic drugs), insulin is advised by doctors, to bring down blood sugar to normal level rapidly.

Myth: insulin make to gain weight.

Fact: there is some truth in this, though not always. Some patients with type 2 diabetes may gain some weight, however it usually level out if insulin therapy is continued and for most of the cases the weight gain is transient. The weight gain is actually a sigh that the treatment is working fine and body is able to handle glucose normally and as a result there is some weight gain.

Myth: If you start insulin, you have failed in diabetes management.

Fact: this is not true. Many patients may strictly follow diet, exercise and oral medications and still may be in need of insulin. This does not mean failure. Most of the type 2 diabetes patients ultimately need insulin after few decades of treatment with diet, exercise and oral hypoglycemic drugs, because these may not be adequate to control blood glucose and it should not be taken as failure. Many patients take oral hypoglycemic drugs along with insulin for diabetes management.

Myth: Insulin can cause dangerous hypoglycemia.

Fact: this (dangerous hypoglycemia or dangerously low blood glucose level) is a possibility, but a rarity. Type 2 diabetes patients are at lower risk of developing hypoglycemia in compare to type 1 diabetes patients. Hopefully most people with diabetes can recognize symptoms (symptoms include anxiety, shaky hands, sweating, an urge to eat etc.) of hypoglycemia easily and take remedial measures such as eating sugar or glucose or juice.

 

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1 Comment

  • Milford Davey April 10, 2015 04.27 pm

    Great article. I’m glad you brought this topic up, as a lot of people may be afraid of insulin. Usually the fear is just of getting pricked rather than the insulin itself! I’m a final year med student and I’ve seen a lot of patients being afraid of the prick.

    Fortunately though, for type 2 diabetes, insulin is often the last resort drug, after oral drugs have been tried out.

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