Living in the diabetic capital of the world, we are all aware of the use of insulin in treating diabetes. Be it in the form of injections, a pen or even through a pump, we know that most people with diabetes need to religiously take their required dosage on time to maintain good health. Now a majority of us only consider insulin treatment for Type 1 diabetes, did you know that even people with Type 2 diabetes may be put on insulin? This may come as a shock for many especially as the belief is that once you are on insulin you are permanently dependent on it. Is this true? Or is it possible for people on insulin to go back to oral medication? Let’s take a look:
Insulin is basically a hormone released by the pancreas which helps convert the glucose from our food to energy. However, when this hormone is not produced adequately or used in the right way, it can lead to diabetes. This is because the sugar levels in the blood are not converted into energy. In Type 1 diabetes, the body produces little or no insulin requiring insulin to be taken externally. In Type 2 diabetes, though the body is able to produce the insulin but not process it correctly leading to insulin resistance.
Can I ever stop using insulin?
Type 1 Diabetes
In people with Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas generally produces little or no insulin at all. This leads to very high blood sugar levels which can further damage the pancreas. To keep these levels in check, Type 1 diabetics are insulin dependent on a permanent basis. However, a healthy meal plan and exercise regime can help maintain normal sugar levels and keep the requirement of insulin at a low dosage.
Type 2 Diabetes
Good news for all those stressing about insulin for Type 2 diabetes, you can stop it permanently with a healthy lifestyle! There are certain instances which require Type 2 diabetics to take insulin. These include:
Obesity: Obesity is a major danger sign for people with diabetes. Excess weight gain affects the body’s ability to regulate insulin further worsening blood sugar levels. Obesity also impacts all major organs over time including pancreas further affecting insulin production. In such situations, a person may be put on insulin if oral medication is unable to regulate glucose levels. However, bringing the weight down to a healthy range with regular exercise and a healthy diet can eliminate need for insulin over time.
Infection or health conditions: procedures like surgery or illnesses such as infections, high fever, certain medicines etc. can raise glucose levels significantly requiring additional insulin. To control and manage the situation a person may be put on insulin till the underlying condition is treated. However, once the illness is dealt with and sugar levels are stable in the target range, insulin can be stopped.
Late diagnosis: High glucose levels left untreated can cause severe harm to the pancreas. This worsens its ability to produce insulin further increasing glucose levels. Here the doctor may advise insulin as a temporary solution to bring down glucose levels and then manage it with oral medication. This is also why an early diagnosis via regular testing is essential!
During pregnancy some women may experience high blood sugar levels. At the time, doctors are likely to suggest insulin to curb these levels and protect the health of mother and child. After completing the pregnancy term, the blood sugar levels should return to normal eliminating the need for insulin.
So we see that as long as our pancreas is able to produce sufficient insulin levels, we don’t need it from external sources on a permanent basis. A healthy diet and lifestyle with a regular exercise regime is a must for healthy insulin levels and to delay or even prevent diabetes. So, if you are on insulin currently talk to your doctor for advice on steps to eliminate it by naturally improving insulin levels.