If you’ve become a family caregiver to someone with diabetes, you’re probably hearing a lot about insulin. You know it plays an important role in the health of a diabetic, but what it is and what it does is a bit of a mystery. Learning everything you can about diabetes, and how insulin affects the body, is an important part of your new role as a caregiver.
What Does Insulin Do?
Insulin is manufactured in the pancreas. It’s a hormone that helps cells to use glucose. Its primary job is to keep blood sugar levels consistently in a normal range. When you eat, the carbohydrates in food are converted into glucose, which is carried in the blood stream and provides the body with energy. Insulin is released when blood sugar is high. Excess glucose is stored in the liver until it is needed, and when insulin levels are low again, glucose is released.
How Does Diabetes Affect Insulin?
How diabetes affects insulin depends on the kind of diabetes a person has. People with type 1 diabetes are unable to produce insulin. Those with type 2 diabetes are able to produce insulin, but their bodies can’t use it as well as they should. In both cases, the body is unable to use glucose to fuel the body, so insulin therapy is needed.
What Kinds of Insulin are Used for Diabetes?
There are several different kinds of insulin used to treat diabetes. The kind used will depend on the individual’s needs. Some kinds of insulin used are:
- Long-Lasting: This kind of insulin works for the entire day.
- Rapid-Acting: Rapid-acting insulin starts working within a few minutes and lasts for a few hours.
- Intermediate-Acting: This type isn’t fully effective for two to four hours and lasts for around 18 hours.
- Regular/Short-Acting: Regular- or short-acting insulin works in about 30 minutes and lasts between three and six hours.
It is possible for a person to need more than one type of insulin. Sometimes a diabetic will need to take insulin more than once a day or may need other medications in addition. Whatever the doctor determines is needed, it’s important to follow their recommendations closely.
A home care provider can help older adults to stick to the doctor’s treatment plan by reminding them to check their blood sugar and take insulin as prescribed. Home care providers can also help schedule medical appointments and drive seniors to them.