Insulin Treatment for Diabetes Vs. Medication Treatment for Diabetes

Diabetes mellitus is a condition which occurs when the pancreas produces inadequate amounts of the insulin hormone. It may also occur when the tissues of the body become resistant to high or normal insulin levels resulting in high sugar levels in the blood. Diabetes is considered to be an extremely dangerous disease and can cause several complications if left untreated. The most commonly used treatment options for diabetes need to be understood well to take an informed decision. Here we consider insulin treatment for diabetes and medication treatment for diabetes and understand them both in details.

Insulin Treatment for Diabetes Vs. Medication Treatment for Diabetes

Insulin Treatment for Diabetes Vs. Medication Treatment for Diabetes

People suffering from diabetes need to monitor their blood sugar levels from time to time and try to maintain it within the normal range to keep other serious complications at bay. Though diabetes is not completely treatable, there are several treatment options available for diabetic patients to help control the extent of the disease and prevent it from deteriorating.

These options include self-care measures, major lifestyle changes and eating healthy. Treatment wise, the two most important treatment options include insulin treatment for diabetes and medication treatment for diabetes.

Let us analyze both these treatment options for diabetes and compare what each has to offer.

Insulin Treatment for Diabetes

Being a hormone secreted by the pancreas, insulin helps the cells of the body to use glucose as need be. In case of diabetes, the body either does not make insulin or uses it appropriately. Hence, you need to control blood sugar levels by taking artificially prepared insulin which is known as insulin treatment for diabetes.

With an array of insulin available to treat and control diabetes, the way it affects your body is what describes the insulin. Here are some ways in which different insulin treatment for diabetes, affect your body differently.

  • Rapid-acting insulin works within minutes and last for a few hours.
  • Short-acting or regular insulin takes around half an hour to work properly and may last up to 6 hours.
  • Immediate acting insulin takes around 3 to 4 hours to work properly with the effects last for around 16 to 18 hours.
  • The last type is long-acting insulin which works for an entire day.

Your doctor might prescribe one or more than one type of insulin depending on your needs. You might have to take it once every day or several doses throughout the day.

Insulin treatment for diabetes is taken by injecting it via a needle and syringe, pre-filled pen system or a cartridge system. The part of the body where the shot is given affects the absorption. When the insulin is injected into the belly it gets absorbed consistently and quickly. The arms, buttocks and thighs are also good places to inject insulin. However, doctors suggest that insulin should be injected in the same area every day though the injection spot can be changed a little to reduce scarring of the skin. Other devices which are also used by diabetic patients include insulin pumps, inhaled insulin and a rapidly-acting insulin device.

The type of insulin used decides when you should take it. Your shot should be so timed that the glucose present in your food reaches just at the same time that the insulin starts working. This allows the body to use the glucose appropriately and also prevent low blood sugar reactions from taking place.

As an example, rapid-acting insulin should be taken just 10 minutes before the meal as it will be able to work on the glucose from the food on time. However, when taking intermediate-acting insulin, it is advisable to take the shot around 30 minutes before the meal as it takes that time to act. Hence, it is necessary to follow your doctor’s advice, as regards insulin treatment for diabetes and continuously monitor to adjust the right dose.

Side Effects of Insulin Treatment for Diabetes

Some of the major side effects of insulin treatment for diabetes include low blood sugar levels, initial weight gain, rash at the injection site and occurrence of scars or lumps if too many injections are taken.

In case of inhaled insulin, it might happen that your lungs suddenly tighten up especially if you suffer from any kind of lung disease such as asthma or COPD.

Medication Treatment for Diabetes

Several medicines in the form of pills, capsules and tablets are easily available to help control diabetes. All of these medicines work in different ways. In some cases, if a medication treatment for diabetes does not suit you, it can be changed or stopped, as advised by the physician.

Types of Medications for Diabetes

  • Metformin or Biguanide – This is one of the most commonly prescribed medicine treatment for diabetes, if physical activity along with a healthy diet is not sufficient to control blood sugar.
  • Alpha glucosidase inhibitor – This medication slows down the absorption of starchy foods by the intestine thereby reducing any rising glucose levels in the blood after eating a meal.
  • Sulphonylureas – These tablets stimulate the pancreatic cells to make more insulin and help it work more efficiently than before.
  • Prandial glucose regulators – These medicines work just like sulphonylureas does but much quicker and last for a very short period of time. These are best taken around 30 minutes before a meal.
  • Glitazones – This medicine reduces the insulin resistance thereby allowing the insulin produced by the body to work efficiently. It also protects the pancreatic cells and helps them produce insulin for longer durations.
  • Incretin Mimetics – This is another medicine that helps in the production of insulin while also reducing glucose production if not needed. Another function of this medicine is to reduce the rate at which food gets digested in the stomach and emptied out of it.

These are some options of medication treatment for diabetes and the best suitable one is decided by the treating physician.

Side Effects of Medication Treatment for Diabetes

Just as it is with all treatment options, you must first understand the side effects of medication treatment for diabetes. Your medication comes along with a PIL or patient information leaflet which is mandatory for you to check and read before consuming it. The PIL will tell you all about the side effects of the specific medication.

In some cases the patient does not experience any side effect but in case you do, you must consult your doctor and discuss about any alternate medication. In case of severe side affects you must seek immediate medical attention without delay.


Your blood sugar levels and the severity of the disease itself decides whether you need to go for insulin treatment or medication treatment for diabetes. Your doctor will be able to best guide you as to which treatment option should you opt for along with the specifics of the same.

Diabetes is a dangerous disease which can even prove fatal in severe cases. Starting early treatment and leading a healthy lifestyle which consists of regular physical activity and a healthy and nutritious diet is the key to staying healthy even when suffering from it.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:September 22, 2017

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