Insulin is a natural hormone secreted by pancreas. It is needed by the cells to remove and use the glucose from the blood. Cells utilize the glucose to output energy that they require to perform their function. Nowadays, insulin utilized for treatment is derived from beef and pork pancreas and recombinant technology as well, which is man-made.

People suffering from diabetes mellitus are less or not at all able to use glucose from the blood and this leads to a spike in the blood sugar level. In type 1 diabetes, not enough insulin is produced by the pancreas. On the other hand, excess insulin is produced but the body doesn’t respond normally to the insulin. By increasing the consumption of glucose by cells and eliminating the concentration of glucose in blood, insulin gets rid of the long term effects of diabetes.

What are the side effects of insulin?

One of the most common side effect of insulin is hypoglycaemia. Its symptoms are as follows:

  1. Blurred vision
  2. Cold temperature
  3. Excessive yawning
  4. Confusion
  5. Headache
  6. Hunger
  7. Irritability
  8. Loss of consciousness
  9. Heart palpitations
  10. Numbness around the mouth
  11. Nausea
  12. Lethargy
  13. Tremors
  14. Tingling in the fingers

How should the insulin be stored?

  1. Closed insulin should be kept preserved between 2 degree Celsius to 8 degree Celsius (or 36 degree F and 46 degree F). It should never be kept in a freezer.
  2. Insulin vials should always be stored at a room temperature for a month at least
  3. All insulin vials should be kept away from sunlight and excessive heat
  4. Unused insulin should be discarded away post its expiration date
  5. Insulin vials should never be shaken.

Is usage of insulin safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding?

During pregnancy, insulin is always a drug of choice for controlling the diabetes. In other words, it should always be preferred over oral drugs to eliminate the blood sugar. Insulin aspart, NPH, insulin lispro can also be used during pregnancy. Insulin is safe to use for nursing mothers as well.

What is the dosage for insulin?

For insulin injection, abdomen is always the preferred site, but the injection sites must always be rotated to avoid the erosion of the fat lying beneath the skin. This condition is referred to as lipodystrophy. For each patient, dosing can be easily adjusted. An amalgamation of short acting or rapid acting and intermediate insulin or long acting insulin are strictly put in use.

For more, read Mastering Diabetes article on Insulin.