Insulin – types and forms of diabetes

Insulin is a vital hormone produced in the pancreas and transports glucose from the blood into the cells. If the body’s own production decreases, hormone replacement must be injected. You can read here which diseases make this necessary, which types there are and how it works in the body.

How does insulin work in the body?

Insulin is a vital metabolic hormone. It is produced in the pancreas and released when the blood sugar level rises. Insulin is responsible for ensuring that glucose (grape sugar) reaches the cells via the bloodstream for energy production and ensures that the blood sugar level is lowered. The name comes from the Latin insula, which means “island”: So-called beta cells in the pancreas first produce proinsulin – a precursor of insulin, which splits into insulin and C-peptide (in two islands, so to speak). The latter can then be measured in the blood – if the C-peptide level is too low, the patient has to inject hormone replacement, i.e. artificial insulin. The antagonist is the hormone glucagon, which promotes sugar reserves stored in the body (usually the liver) and causes the blood sugar level to rise.

In the case of diabetes, the hormone only has a limited effect, which necessitates the use of artificial insulin.

Also interesting: You should have these blood values ​​checked regularly

manufacture and species

Most insulins are genetically produced by bacteria or yeast cultures. During this production you can influence the effect of the insulin. Some are designed to lower blood sugar levels quickly, while others are designed to have a delayed effect over a full day or longer. This mimics the natural fasting insulin secretion in the pancreas. These so-called “basal insulins” release small amounts of the hormone replacement into the bloodstream to ensure a stable sugar level. During therapy, the patient injects the artificial hormone with the help of a pen into the subcutaneous fatty tissue, mainly in the abdomen, upper buttocks or thighs.

forms of diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form the diabetes disease. The body cells respond much less well to the insulin, which means that the sugar no longer gets into the cells sufficiently. As a result, the blood sugar level rises. Initially, type 2 diabetes is usually treated with medication – because only a few people affected by type 2 diabetes have had the insulin production disorder since the onset of the disease. If the insulin production of the pancreas decreases later on, insulin therapy is started. A fixed dose of short- and long-acting insulin is injected before breakfast and dinner. In the intensified therapy, short-acting insulin is injected with meals and supplemented with long-acting insulin before sleeping.

Also interesting: Type 2 diabetes: symptoms, risk factors, possible consequences

The rarer variant is type 1 diabetes. This occurs when the immune system attacks the beta cells in the pancreas, interrupting their production of insulin. Those affected must therefore supply themselves with insulin for the most part immediately and for the rest of their lives. You inject yourself with a fixed mix of short-acting (before meals) and long-acting insulin once or twice a day. Patients calculate the necessary dose themselves, having learned to correctly estimate the carbohydrate content in their food. They are like experts on their own blood sugar levels.

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