If you suffer from type 2 diabetes, you may be taking insulin to manage your blood sugar levels. Insulin is crucial for diabetic patients in controlling their blood glucose levels. When people keep taking insulin for a long period of time, there comes a time when you might need to switch from your present insulin therapy to new insulin treatment for many reasons. Switching over to a new insulin treatment plan is never easy and today we take a look at everything you need to know about switching insulin therapy.
Why Do You Need To Switch Your Insulin Therapy?
Regardless of how long you have been taking insulin to manage and control the levels of your blood sugar in type 2 diabetes, there may arise a point when you need to change over from your present insulin treatment to another therapy for many reasons. Some of the reasons beyond your control include:
- Changes in the body’s metabolism
- Hormonal changes or hormonal imbalance
- Advancing nature of type 2 diabetes
We look at how it can be easier for you to transition over to a new insulin therapy by following these below-mentioned tips.
Educate Yourself About Insulin Therapy
You must educate yourself about the type of insulin you are taking, will be taking in the new treatment regimen, your overall medication plan, and the schedule you are supposed to follow. Discussing all these with your doctor and your healthcare team will help you manage your diabetes better. You need to be aware of the kind of insulin you are taking and the likely peaks of action and side effects associated with that particular type of insulin. Once you understand how the new insulin treatment works and how to fit it into your daily schedule, you will feel more confident about managing your diabetes.
There are many types of insulin that are available for managing type 2 diabetes, and your doctor will prescribe either one or more types of insulin for controlling the levels of blood glucose. Some of these may include:
Rapid-Acting Insulin- Rapid-acting insulin is taken when you are ready to have a meal (1). You will take the insulin dose within 15 minutes after eating in order to counteract the increase in blood sugar levels from the food. If you suffer from type 2 diabetes, then you might have to take long-acting insulin along with rapid-acting insulin as well.
Short-Acting Insulin or Regular Insulin- This type of insulin is typically taken before a meal and it takes around half an hour to take effect. This type of insulin takes a bit longer than rapid-acting insulin to start working on controlling the blood glucose levels.
Intermediate-Acting Insulin- This type of insulin meets your insulin requirements for nearly the entire night or half of the day. Intermediate-acting insulin is typically combined with shorter-acting insulin for best results.
Premixed Insulin- This insulin is a combination of intermediate-acting insulin and rapid-acting insulin. People who use this type of premixed insulin do so to meet both their mealtime and basal insulin requirements.
Long-Acting Insulin- One of the more commonly used insulin, long-acting insulin is used to meet the needs of insulin for the entire day or 24 hours. It has been observed that people suffering from type 2 diabetes have either very little or absolutely no basal insulin. Basal insulin is the small and steady level of insulin released by the pancreases under normal conditions throughout the day. However, in people suffering from type 2 diabetes, a dose of long-acting insulin is required to meet the insulin needs of the body throughout the day and night. In some cases, many type 2 diabetes patients have to divide the dose of long-acting insulin or combine with short-acting insulin dosage to better manage their blood sugar levels.
Regardless of which type of insulin you are taking, it is important to only do so after your doctor prescribes the same and you will also need to follow the doctor’s prescription on the dosage and when to check the blood glucose levels.
Understand the Insulin Dosage
You will have to work together with your healthcare team and your doctor to determine what is the best treatment plan for managing your diabetes. This also includes determining the correct dose of insulin. Every person’s insulin dosage varies and depends on several factors. These include:
- Current treatment plan
- Metabolic requirements
- Overall health status
Even if you have already been on insulin, when starting a new type of insulin or determining a new dosage of insulin or even when beginning a new insulin regimen, it is important that you work together with your doctor to determine the best possible medication plan for your diabetes. Your doctor or certified diabetes educator (CDE) helps you determine and adjust your dosage by looking at your blood sugar response over a period of time.
It is important that you monitor your blood sugar levels closely. You should also keep a diary or log of your blood sugar levels so that at your next appointment you can bring this along to discuss with your doctor. Any adjustments in your insulin dose need to be discussed with your doctor. This is why all the information you provide to your doctor is critical to ensure the correct diabetes care and proper management of your condition.
Lookout for Any Symptom Changes on New Insulin Therapy
It is possible that when switching over to new insulin therapy, you experience some types of new symptoms in the initial days. If you notice any unusual symptoms, bring it to the notice of your healthcare team at the earliest. Share any symptoms or any other problems you are facing with the new insulin as soon as you experience them.
Some questions you should be considering when switching to new insulin therapy include:
- Are you feeling confused, sweaty, anxious, or weak? It could be due to hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar levels. (2)
- Are you feeling thirsty, fatigued, and experiencing frequent urination? These could be signs of hyperglycemia or high blood sugar levels. (3)
- Are you noticing that your blood glucose levels are fluctuating throughout the day, often being out of the normal range?
- Have you been under a lot of stress recently? Could this be affecting your eating schedule or your sleeping patterns?
- Have you recently started a new exercising routine that coincides with the time you switched over to new insulin or when you changed your insulin dosage?
Weight Management When Switching to New Insulin Therapy
It is important for diabetes patients to manage their weight. It has been observed that starting a new insulin therapy or changing over to a new dosage of insulin can cause people to gain weight. (4) This happens because when you were not taking the insulin, your body was not using up the sugar from the food for making energy. Instead, it was building up in the blood causing your blood sugar levels to shoot up. However, now that you are taking insulin, the glucose is going inside the cells in the manner that it should, where it is either getting used up as energy or being stored. It is also possible that without insulin you were earlier experiencing a little bit of dehydration, and now this may be leading to water retention, which also causes some weight gain.
In order to minimize the weight gain upon starting a new type of insulin or changing over your insulin dosage, try these tips:
Reduce Your Portion Size- If you have type 2 diabetes, you should be visiting a dietitian or a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) to help you chart out the best diet plan to control and manage your diabetes. Reducing your portion sizes will make it easier for your body to absorb the glucose.
Do Not Give In To A Sedentary Lifestyle– It is important for diabetics to remain physically active. Exercising regularly or even being active will help you burn more calories and also cut down on the levels of stress. However, do keep in mind that you need to test your blood sugar levels before, during, and after exercising. If you notice any outliers, then bring it up with your doctor at your next appointment.
If you feel so that you might be having a weight problem, it is always better to discuss the same with your doctor before the actual weight gain begins.
Never try to change your own insulin or adjust your insulin dosage by yourself, as this may lead to serious complications while also affecting your overall treatment plan negatively.
There is no doubt that it is difficult to manage type 2 diabetes. However, it is not an impossible task and you have the help of your doctor and healthcare team to advise you at each step of the way. While taking insulin, you also need to keep making healthy lifestyle changes, such as eating healthy, regular exercising or remaining active physically, and managing your stress levels. All these are important steps of your diabetes management plan. Always bring up any concerns you might be having about your new insulin dosage or a new insulin therapy with your doctor.
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