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Insulin Therapy for Type 2: The Pros and Cons

Sometimes when type 2 diabetes gets out of control and patients aren’t able to manage their blood sugar, they are put on insulin therapy for type 2 diabetes. But is this the best choice? When doctors prescribe insulin, they are essentially giving more insulin to someone who is already producing too much. According to Dr. Mariela Glandt in A Sweet Life, the best way to help people with type 2 to produce less insulin is to eat fewer carbs. 

Other studies have shown that taking diabetes medications such as insulin does not actually lengthen lifespan or improve quality of life, and could do more harm than good. 

So what are the pros and cons of taking insulin with type 2? Are there some cases where you have to have it?

What is insulin?

Insulin is a powerful hormone produced by beta cells in the pancreas that helps cells turn blood glucose into energy. When the body either doesn’t make insulin or doesn’t respond well to it, the complications of diabetes arise.

Everyone with type 1 and some people with type 2 diabetes need to use insulin to manage their diabetes. People with type 1 diabetes have to take insulin because their pancreas no longer produces it. Some people with type 2 diabetes need to take insulin, as they have insulin resistance, wherein their sensitivity to insulin is impaired.

The most common strength of insulin is U-100, or 100 units of insulin per milliliter of fluid. When traveling outside the U.S., be sure to match your insulin strength with the correct syringe size.

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Benefits of taking insulin for type 2 

Insulin comes with some real-time benefits:

  • It works quickly to bring blood glucose levels to a safe range
  • Has very few side effects
  • Can cost less than other diabetes medications

Risks of taking insulin for type 2

There are side effects that can occur when taking insulin for type 2:

  • Lowers blood sugar too much
  • Can cause discomfort of injections
  • Weight gain is possible
  • Risk of infection

If insulin isn’t appropriate to treat your diabetes, your doctor might recommend other ways of treating your high blood sugar.

Alternatives to taking insulin can include:

  • Eating a very low-carb diet
  • Taking oral diabetes medications
  • Taking other injectables that are not insulin
  • Undergoing weight loss surgery

If your doctor does tell you that you need to take insulin, don’t think of it as a failure. It just means that you might need to take it in order to control your diabetes for a time. Know that by managing your diet and exercise you may be able to get your diabetes better under control and stop taking insulin.