Blood glucose meter, syringe, and other equipment used in diabetes care and insulin administration
Healthy Living

Sugar Rush: Pros and Cons of Different Insulin Options for Diabetics

Nov 28 2018
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From injections to pumps, there are many insulin delivery options for diabetics

Your pancreas helps your body digest food. It also releases certain substances called hormones into your body. Insulin is a hormone that your pancreas produces. This hormone regulates the amount of sugar (glucose) in your blood that your body uses for energy. When your pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin or your body doesn’t use insulin well, it causes either Type 1 diabetes or Type 2 diabetes. Both types of diabetes are dangerous if you don’t get treatment. You’ll likely treat diabetes by taking insulin every day.

Why do I need insulin every day?

You may need to control your blood sugar levels throughout the day with insulin. The type and amount of insulin used varies by person. The amount you need daily depends on your diabetes, your physical activity levels and your diet.

Types of insulin

There’s more than one type of insulin. Your doctor can help you determine what’s best for you. The types of insulin include:

  • Pre-mixed insulin: This is a mix of two types of insulin.
  • Rapid-acting insulin: This begins working 15 minutes after injection and lasts up to four hours.
  • Intermediate-acting insulin: This begins working four hours after injection and lasts up to 18 hours.
  • Long-acting insulin: This begins working several hours after injection and lasts up to 24 hours or longer.
  • Short-acting insulin: Also called regular insulin, it begins working within 30 minutes after injection and lasts up to six hours.

The goal is to have a steady flow of insulin into your system to regulate your blood sugar. The next decision you’ll make is how you’ll deliver the insulin into your body.

Which insulin delivery system is best for me?

The way you deliver insulin into your body depends on your comfort level, lifestyle and insurance plan. Your insurance plan may only pay for one type of insulin delivery system. That’s why it’s important to check with your provider first before you and your doctor make a decision.

Types of insulin delivery options

Inhaler: An inhaler delivers a powdered version of insulin through your mouth. You breathe it into your lungs so it can go into your bloodstream.

  • Pros: It’s needle-free, easy to take and compact.
  • Cons: It’s for adults only. It’s not recommended if you smoke or have lung problems.

Injection port: This system involves inserting a small tube into the tissue beneath your skin. It stays in place on your skin with an adhesive patch. You put the insulin into the port using a needle and syringe or pen.

  • Pros: You’ll reduce the number of times you puncture your skin with a needle.
  • Cons: You have to replace the port every few days.

Jet injector: This device delivers a fine spray of insulin into your skin at a very high pressure instead of using a needle.

  • Pros: It’s needle-free.
  • Cons: If you have sensitive skin or nerves, it may be more painful than a needle. It can also send an uneven dose into your system.

Needle and syringe: This common way to deliver insulin involves drawing insulin from a vial into a syringe. You inject it into your stomach, thigh, buttocks or upper arm.

  • Pros: It’s an affordable option that most insurance plans cover.
  • Cons: You may not like needles. It’s also a multi-step process to take the insulin. The dosage may be uneven because you have to draw the insulin evenly.

Pen: An increasingly popular way to deliver insulin is by pen. It has a built-in needle to dispense insulin from a cartridge.

  • Pros: They’re convenient, portable and easy to use. They come in disposable or reusable versions. You can dial the dose of insulin you need on the pen.
  • Cons: Not all types of insulin are available in pen form. Pens may be more expensive than a needle-and-syringe system.

Pump: There are different types of pumps. A basic pump is a small machine filled with insulin that provides steady doses of the hormone throughout the day. The pump goes on your belt or in a pocket close to your body. Some smaller types attach directly to your skin. A tiny needle releases insulin into your skin throughout the day or when you need it.

  • Pros: It’s easy to monitor and control your blood sugar. Pumps efficiently deliver insulin. That means you usually use less insulin that a syringe or pen.
  • Cons: It’s a costlier choice. If the pump fails, you may not realize it until you develop diabetic ketoacidosis, which is a dangerous complication.

Would you like more information on how to control your diabetes with insulin? Our team can help. Reach out to a caring, compassionate physician near you today.


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