What is insulin for diabetes

Insulin is a hormone that is made in the pancreas, the large organ that sits above your stomach. Insulin regulates the level of glucose in your blood that you get from the food you eat. This is a critical function as without the right amount of glucose, your body cells won’t have the energy they need to work properly.

Insulin can only be given by injection as it is broken down by enzymes in your gastric fluids.

There are various types of insulin and your GP will help choose the one that best suits you. Most people inject themselves 2–4 times daily. You can use a syringe, special pens that adjust the dose for you or special insulin pumps. However, insulin pumps are not freely available on the NHS and you need to have met certain criteria to qualify for one.

As insulin is absorbed through fat, it should be injected into the fatty parts of your body, such as upper arms, tummy, thighs and buttocks.

It is recommended that you rotate the place you inject so that you avoid lipohypertrophy (a lump under the skin caused by accumulation of extra fat at the site of insulin injections) and you don’t get sore. To help you dispose of your needles, you should receive a sharps container from your healthcare team to safely do this.

People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin and many people with type 2 diabetes need insulin therapy as well. If you have type 2 diabetes, it is natural for things to change over time and you may need to add insulin to your diabetes management plan to help keep your blood glucose in control. Most likely, insulin can help you feel better and have more energy.

The type of injectible insulin you use depends on what you need it for. Here’s how the various kinds work:

Types of Injectible Insulin
Types of Injectible Insulin Onset Peak Duration
Rapid-acting 5-15 mins 1 hour 1-2 hours
Short-acting 30 mins 2-4 hours 6-8 hours
Intermediate-acting 2-4 hours 6-10 hours 10-16 hours
Long-acting 4-6 hours 18 hours 24-36 hours