Myths and misconceptions about insulin

14 Mar, 2022

Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that helps glucose in your blood enter cells in your muscle, fat, and liver, where it is used for energy. Glucose comes from the food you eat. The liver also makes glucose in times of need, such as when you are fasting. When blood glucose, also called blood sugar, levels rise after you eat, your pancreas releases insulin into the blood. Insulin then lowers blood glucose to keep it in the normal range. With each meal, beta cells release insulin to help the body use or store the blood sugar it gets from food.

In people with type 1 diabetes, the pancreas no longer makes insulin. The beta cells have been destroyed, and they need insulin shots to use glucose from meals.

People with type 2 diabetes make insulin, but their bodies don't respond well. Therefore, some people with type 2 diabetes need diabetes pills or insulin shots to help their bodies use glucose for energy.

Insulin cannot be taken as a pill because it would be broken down during digestion, just like the protein in food. It must be injected into the fat under your skin for it to get into your blood. In some rare cases, insulin can lead to an allergic reaction at the injection site. Talk to your doctor if you believe you may be experiencing a reaction.

Insulin has been discovered since 1921 and has saved the lives of millions of people; nevertheless, many myths and misconceptions are related to this critical medication.

The following is some of the myths and facts about insulin:

Myth 1: Insulin is the last-resort treatment.

Many people believe insulin is only for people with advanced, severe diabetes. However, insulin is often pushed to a later stage only because of patients' reluctance. Considering the benefits of insulin in delaying many diabetes-related complications, doctors now prescribe it to people at an earlier stage of diagnosis rather than waiting until it is absolutely necessary.

Myth 2: Insulin causes complications or death.

The belief that insulin causes complications or death often comes from seeing what happened in the past to family members or friends with diabetes. Those complications are the result of longstanding uncontrolled diabetes and not insulin. Although it can be hard to get past your fear, it is more likely that insulin might have delayed or even prevented these complications if it had been started earlier.

Myth 3: Insulin is addictive.

You cannot get addicted to insulin. Insulin is a natural substance your body needs. If you are concerned that people who may see you give your insulin shot in a public place will think you are using illegal drugs, ask your provider if an insulin pen would work for you.

Myth 4: Using insulin during pregnancy will harm the baby

Insulin crosses the placenta in minimal amounts and doesn't harm the baby. Consistently high blood glucose levels are much more likely to complicate pregnancy and affect the health of the mother and baby.

Myth 5: Needing to use insulin is a sign of failure

Not at all. Because type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease, many people over time need to add insulin to their regimen to keep their condition under control.

Finally, the science of diabetes has achieved remarkable improvements. Nowadays, people with diabetes who receive appropriate medical management are expected to avoid diabetes complications and live an almost normal life.

Your doctor is the best source of information and the only one who can decide the best treatment for your diabetes according to your condition and the latest available scientific evidence.