Everything you need to know about insulin

abnormalities of insulin leads to diabetes

Insulin is a hormone, and we cannot live without it.

It helps to regulate blood sugar levels by guiding cells to uptake glucose from the bloodstream when it exceeds normal levels.

When there are problems, it causes several disorders in the body.

Type 1 diabetes is caused due to lack of insulin, and type 2 diabetes results from reduced production or its actions.

Gestational diabetes is a temporary condition which occurs during pregnancy. There is reduced production of insulin during this period.

Insulin is a hormone

Insulin produces in the beta cells of the pancreas. The pancreas is an organ located behind the stomach in the abdominal cavity. Pancreas also produces glucagon. It is also a hormone and has the opposite actions of insulin.

It is responsible for,

1. Energy production by utilizing glucose

2. Conversion of glucose into glycogen for storage in the liver and muscle tissue for future use

3. Conversion of excess glucose (after energy production and glycogen stores are saturated) into fat and stored in adipose tissues.

So, to support these functions, there is a basal secretion of the hormone from the pancreas throughout the day.

But its secretion increases when the blood glucose levels rise after a meal. Secretion is proportional to blood glucose levels.

Type 2 diabetes

In type 2 diabetes, insulin production is low, is not working properly, or both contribute to high blood glucose.

The latter condition is also known as insulin resistance; cells become resistant to its effects. When this happens, glucose cannot enter the cells for utilization. Therefore it builds up in the bloodstream, resulting in high blood glucose levels.

When you have type 2 diabetes, there is a reduced insulin secretion rate. It resulted from either reducing beta cell number in the pancreas, reducing the secretion rate, or both. Beta cell number can decrease further over time with the progression of the disease. The cause for these changes is not fully understood.

The main reason for insulin resistance is obesity. However, the exact mechanism is still not known.

Management of type 2 diabetes focuses on lifestyle modifications such as exercise and healthy eating. With exercises, insulin resistance and blood glucose control improve.

Type 1 diabetes

In type 1 diabetes, beta cells are destroyed due to immune mediates mechanisms. So, there is a loss of beta cells, and the hormone is not produced.

So, the treatment of type 1 diabetes warrant injection of insulin. Lifestyle modifications or oral glucose-lowering medications are not effective in type 1 diabetes.

Insulin types for injection

There are various preparations available to treat diabetes. There are 3 groups based on their time of action: short-acting (including soluble and rapid-acting), intermediate-acting and long-acting insulins.

  1. Short-acting
  2. Intermediate-acting (Isophane insulin)
  3. Long-acting (I.Detemir, I. Glargine, I. Degludec)

Understanding how it works will help you take care of yourself.

Understanding, its mechanisms of action will help you take care of yourself. 

It is essential to know how your body uses it and what happens when it doesn’t make enough.

If you have diabetes and take medication or insulin injections, knowing how they work helps avoid extreme glucose fluctuation.

The Bottom Line

Insulin regulates blood glucose levels by promoting uptake by cells for energy production. Excess glucose is stored as glycogen or fats.

Problems with this hormone resulted in developing diabetes type 1 and type 2. 

Understanding its mechanism of action will help you know how to take care of yourself when you are on treatment of diabetes in type 1 diabetes or advanced type 2 diabetes.

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