Switching from oral therapy to insulin
Has your healthcare provider talked to you about insulin? For many people, this can bring on mixed feelings and questions. There is a lot of information around type 2 diabetes and insulin available. However, trying to sort through it all might be overwhelming. There are a lot of feelings, opinions, and even myths around insulin.
We’ve put together some key facts around type 2 diabetes and insulin. This will help you start to separate fact from fiction. The more you learn about insulin, the easier it will be to transition to it from orals.
5 facts about insulin and type 2 diabetes
1. Diabetes is an insulin problem, not a sugar problem.
It’s extremely important to understand that sugar does not cause diabetes. Diabetes is caused when the body does not manufacture enough insulin. Or the body does not use insulin properly and is unable to process the sugar from food1. Sometimes, it takes insulin to solve an insulin problem.
2. Starting insulin is normal for most people.
When it comes to type 2 diabetes, needing insulin is just one path you can take. Needing insulin does not mean you have failed at diabetes care. Diabetes is a progressive disease. Even when you manage your blood glucose beautifully, your body will likely create less insulin over time. As time goes on, your body may use insulin less efficiently2.
Eventually, diabetes is most likely to progress. It will move beyond a point where oral medications and other options are no longer effective. Oral medications might not keep blood sugar levels in a safe range, leading to a need for insulin1.
3. Oral medication is not the same as insulin.
Pills you take by mouth (orals), and other injection drugs are not insulin. Instead, these help your body use the insulin it already makes. Insulin cannot be taken orally. If it was, it would be broken down by the stomach before it could be absorbed into the bloodstream. That's why it's injected under the skin.
4. Insulin injections don't hurt the way you might think.
Nobody likes shots. However, many people are surprised to find out that it's much easier than they expected1. And as more diabetes medications are being delivered by injection, it’s easier to get used to it. Chances are you've already gotten comfortable with injections of some sort.
5. Insulin does not cause problems with feet, eyes, or other parts of the body.
Perhaps you've heard about someone who started insulin and then had problems with their eyes or feet. Rest assured, insulin didn't cause the problem. In fact, starting insulin sooner might have helped prevent or delay those health issues1.
As you move from oral medication to insulin, you might be wondering about lies on the road ahead. There are a lot of questions that come up about insulin and Type 2 diabetes. Some of the questions you might be thinking could include:
- How do I manage my diabetes moving forward?
- How does insulin work for Type 2 diabetes?
- What changes will I have to make for this new treatment?
- Will I have to change things in my lifestyle when using insulin?
Your doctor will be able to answer many of these questions. Talk to him about the changeover from orals to insulin and what that means for you. It would be helpful to make a list of questions beforehand. This can help guide your conversation and ensure that you won’t forget to cover any of the big questions you might have.
Many people find that moving to insulin has a positive effect on their condition and health. After all, with better blood sugar management comes more energy and feeling better overall1.
So, when it comes to insulin and type 2 diabetes, knowing the facts helps. It will be easier to transition from orals to insulin. You will know what to expect and ready for the change. So yes, your life may change - maybe for the better.
Reviewed by: Brent Wisse, MD, Board Certified in Metabolism/Endocrinology, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. Retrieved from: https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/special-topic/diabetes-myths-and-facts. Accessed May 13 2021.
American Diabetes Association (2015). Standards of medical care in diabetes—2015 [position statement]. Diabetes Care. 2015;33(1): S4-S93. Retrieved from: https://diabetesjournals.org/clinical/article/40/1/10/139035/Standards-of-Medical-Care-in-Diabetes-2022. Accessed April 14 2021.
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