When Does Type-2 Diabetes Require or Need Insulin?

Insulin is a kind of hormone that has crucial function to help cells of the body in absorbing glucose or sugar from the bloodstream. It is made in pancreas by special cells called ‘beta cells’. While taking additional insulin (insulin replacement /injection) is very common in people with type-1 diabetes, do people with type-2 also need to take it? If so, when does type-2 diabetes require this insulin replacement?

Normally, when we eat or after eating, the body will produce more insulin to be released in the bloodstream. The release of this hormone then will be used to help absorb and move glucose taken from foods into cells of the body which then converted into energy for the fuel of the body. This natural mechanism can help maintain the level of blood sugar.

The role of insulin in type-1 and type-2 diabetes

In type-1, there is no any insulin produced by beta cells of pancreas.

In other words, the beta cells are no longer to work or even have been destroyed by the immune system of the body itself without known reason (a condition called autoimmune disease). As a result, there is almost no any insulin in the bloodstream to regulate the level of blood sugar.

Doctors still don’t know why the immune system fights against the production of insulin in the pancreas. Research is still ongoing to identify the clearly answer for this condition and how to prevent the disease. Fortunately, type-1 is rare – and most cases of the disease develop and diagnosed before 20 years of age.

How about with type-2? It is much more common than type-1. Both are silent disease that can generate serious complications if left untreated /not managed as well. However, the chance to reverse type-2 is slightly better than the chance to reverse type-1.

In type-2, the beta cells of pancreas still work and produce some amounts of insulin.

But in many cases, the production of this hormone still doesn’t meet to the body needs. Sometime the problem is insulin resistance, a condition that describes the poor performance of insulin to work (insulin sensitivity) or when this hormone cannot optimally help the absorption of glucose into the cells of the body.

Both factors (the body produce less insulin or cannot use this hormone effectively) can be a great combination to cause hyperglycemia (having too high blood sugar) in patients with type-2 diabetes!

Do people with type-2 diabetes need and take insulin?

The answer varies from patient to patient, depending on how well they can control their blood sugar level and how well they can stick to the treatment plan as a part of their lifetime commitment.

Although in type-2 the body still produces insulin,  but sometime some patients still need to take insulin replacement. However in general, the frequency of taking insulin in patients with type-2 is rarer than in patients with type-1.

Some patients with type-2 may require a single injection of insulin /day without taking any diabetes pills, while others may require both diabetes pills and one injection in the evening – according to the American Diabetes Association. If the disease doesn’t respond to the diabetes pills, doctors may recommend 2 injections a day with different types of insulin.

When does type-2 diabetes require insulin replacement?

Sticking to the treatment plan that made by your healthcare provider can help delay your chance of needing insulin replacement.

In general, the insulin replacement /injection is required if the blood sugar is too high and doesn’t respond to the lifestyle changes (such as exercise ‘moderate physical activity’ and’ healthy diet) and tablets /diabetes pills.

And when the use of insulin replacement is needed, it’s important to completely understand that this procedure is just the natural step and progression of the disease!

when_does_type-2_diabetes_need_insulin_illustrationThe thought of getting to begin taking insulin injection can be often frightening. Fortunately, the devices for insulin injection are now much friendlier than before and much easier than you think. When beginning on your injection, your healthcare provider will determine the right dose and make some adjustments for your new routine & treatment plan.

There are several types of devices for insulin injection:

  1. Syringes! The size of these devices is dependent on the dose of insulin you need. And they are made for single-use only.
  2. Pen devices! Many patients report that they are much more convenient with pen devices than the use of syringes. These devices are available in reusable & disposable.
  3. A programmable insulin pump! Generally it can be programmed to deliver & transfer insulin (particularly fact-acting insulin) into the body through a special thin tube.

However, sometime for doctors, making a decision of when their patients with type-2 diabetes need to take insulin replacement is not always easy.