Insulin is a hormone made in an organ called the pancreas. Insulin’s job is to stop glucose levels in your blood from rising too high. Glucose (a type of sugar) from food is your body’s main source of energy. It is transported via your bloodstream to your muscles and other cells throughout your body. Insulin is released when blood glucose levels rise. Insulin helps glucose move out of your bloodstream and into your cells. If you don’t have enough insulin, or it’s not working properly (called insulin resistance), then glucose levels build up in your blood.
People with type 1 diabetes can no longer make their own insulin.
People with type 2 diabetes and some women with gestational diabetes often get to a stage where they can no longer produce enough insulin.
If your pancreas is not making enough insulin, then the best treatment is to inject insulin yourself.
This can feel like a daunting task. Some people feel angry or disappointed if they need insulin. Others are afraid of the needle and the thought of injecting. This is understandable. There is a lot to learn and think about. Support is available.
To start with, try to understand how your insulin works, how to store it and how to inject it safely.
Also, be aware that people taking insulin will need to monitor their blood glucose levels every day and before driving. And be sure to learn how to manage hypos (low blood glucose levels).
Always keep your glucose meter and hypo treatment with you.
If you are starting insulin, or changing the type or dose of insulin, ask to see a diabetes educator.
Insulin is usually given by injection using a pen device. However, there are also pumps that can be programmed to deliver insulin continuously via a canula under your skin.
Insulin pumps are generally only available for people with type 1 diabetes in Australia. There are several different brands and models of insulin pumps. They are covered by most private health insurance. Pump consumables (cannulas, tubing, reservoirs) are subsidised by the NDSS for people with type 1 diabetes and women with diabetes who are pregnant and require insulin.
If you wish to find out about insulin pumps, contact your diabetes team. They can provide information, assess suitability, and support you with appropriate education and processes to get started.