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Weighing the Insulin Decision

Things to consider for people living with type 2 diabetes

Do you have a difficult relationship with your therapeutic insulin or care for someone who does? Some people living with type 2 diabetes who have been prescribed therapeutic insulin to help manage their blood sugar levels may initially resist taking it.

Here are some of the most common reasons people struggle with the idea of using therapeutic insulin:

Fear of needles

If available, consider using an insulin pen in place of a syringe. An insulin pen, which resembles a real pen, is easier to carry and may be more comfortable to use. Someone on your diabetes care team can prescribe one and teach you how to use it properly.

Some people with type 2 diabetes wear an insulin pump. Pumps are cell-phone-sized computers that are worn day and night, eliminating the need for routine injections. (Read more about insulin pumps.)

Weight gain

Some people may gain some weight after starting to take insulin. Some of this could be water weight: High blood glucose levels tend to dehydrate the body. In addition, better blood glucose management and the use of therapeutic insulin help nutrients and glucose to enter the cells to be used as fuel, rather than being lost through urine.

Staying active and making more healthful food choices can help minimize the risk of putting on a few extra pounds. A registered dietitian can help guide you.

Fear of hypoglycemia

Taking too much insulin may cause a person’s blood glucose to drop below target levels – a rare, but potentially dangerous situation. Working with a CDE or other member of your diabetes care team can help to ensure you give yourself the correct dosage and avoid blood glucose lows, and they can instruct you on the steps to take in the event that glucose falls below your recommended range.

Treating type 2 diabetes with insulin means it’s “serious”

All types of diabetes, when not well managed, may lead to serious problems, including eye complications, skin conditions, intimacy issues and more.

Taking insulin is an admission of failure

For most people, type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease. The longer a person has it, the less insulin their body may produce, and they may need to change how they manage their blood sugar levels. To help avoid episodes of hyperglycemia and the long-term effects of high blood sugar, this may include being prescribed therapeutic insulin. It shouldn’t signal failure, but the opposite. When administered properly, insulin may help a person with diabetes achieve target blood sugar levels and feel more energized.

Janis Roszler, MS, RD, LD/N, CDE*, FAND, is the American Association of Diabetes Educators 2008-09 Diabetes Educator of the Year. She is a registered dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator, and marriage and family therapist. Her books include Sex and Diabetes, The Secrets of Living and Loving with Diabetes and, co-authored with Wendy Satin Rapaport, PhD, Approaches to Behavior: Changing the Dynamic Between Patients and Professionals in Diabetes EducationRoszler is a paid contributor for The DX. All opinions contained in this article reflect those of the contributor, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies, or affiliates.

*“Certified Diabetes Educator” and “CDE” are certification marks owned and registered by the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators (NCBDE). NCBDE is not affiliated in any way with Sanofi US. NCBDE does not sponsor or endorse any diabetes-related products or services.

© 2016 The DX: The Diabetes Experience

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