Understanding Why Do Some Individuals With Diabetes Need More Insulin Than Others?

Why Do Some Individuals With Diabetes Need More Insulin Than Others?

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas to help liver, fat, and muscle cells absorb glucose for energy. After a meal, glucose levels rise and the pancreas releases insulin to stabilize the amount of glucose in the blood.

When an individual does not produce enough insulin or is unable to use insulin properly, this leads to a consistently high level of blood glucose (BG), which can eventually lead to the development of diabetes. Individuals with diabetes may need to take insulin in order to lower glucose levels. However, not every individual will need the same amount of insulin to properly manage their diagnosis.

Degree of Insulin Sensitivity Affects Insulin Requirements

The degree to which the body responds to insulin is described as insulin sensitivity. The extent of an individual’s sensitivity to insulin will determine how much insulin an individual needs to stabilize glucose levels.

An individual who is highly insulin-sensitive will require smaller amounts of insulin to effectively lower blood glucose levels. Individuals with type 1 diabetes are typically more sensitive to insulin and are more susceptible to developing hypoglycemia if too much insulin is administered.

An individual who has impaired insulin sensitivity, or low insulin sensitivity, will need a higher dosage of insulin to stabilize blood glucose levels. Each individual’s body is unique and will require a different amount of insulin to manage BG levels. Speak with your healthcare provider to understand the best insulin dosage for your specific diagnosis.

Insulin Resistance Leads to the Need for More Insulin

Individuals with type 2 diabetes, and some individuals with type 1 diabetes, suffer from insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is identified when blood glucose levels remain high for a consistent period of time and the body is unable to use glucose effectively. Cells are unable to absorb the glucose for energy, and unused glucose builds up in the blood.

Initially, the pancreas compensates by producing more insulin to help aid glucose absorption by cells. However, eventually the pancreas is unable to meet the increased demand for insulin and is unable to produce sufficient quantities to meet the body’s needs. At this point, a physician may offer the patient the option of using insulin injections to help manage glucose levels.

Insulin pumps can make insulin therapy more convenient, but may not hold enough insulin for people who are insulin resistant, resulting in frequent insulin cartridge changes. For individuals who require more than 100 units of insulin a day, a large capacity insulin pump may help make insulin administration more convenient without increasing required supplies or the need to frequently change out insulin cartridges.

Physical Activity May Lower the Need for Insulin Injections

Muscle tissue uses more glucose than any other tissue in the body. Typically, active muscles use stored glucose for energy and continue to absorb glucose from the blood to fill reserves. This process helps balance insulin and glucose levels as well as reverse insulin resistance. For this reason, consistent exercise and physical activity are essential to maintaining low glucose levels.

Excess Weight, Chronic Inflammation, and Insulin Resistance

Excess fat around the waist may also play a significant role in insulin resistance. Abdominal fat produces hormones that may interfere with the role of insulin. Fat tissue around the waist also draws immune cells to the area, generating low-level chronic inflammation which contributes to insulin resistance. Losing weight may help reduce insulin resistance.

Understanding the Amount of Insulin That’s Right for You

The amount of insulin needed to manage blood glucose levels varies for each individual. Understanding what works best for each individual  is often deduced through a series of trials and errors with the help of a diabetes management team. Speak with your healthcare provider to better understand what factors contribute to your recommended dosage.

Resources:

http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/Diabetes/your-guide-diabetes/Pages/index.aspx

http://www.diabeticlivingonline.com/medication/insulin/insulin-and-type-2-diabetes-what-you-should-know

http://www.joslin.org/info/the_truth_about_insulin_and_type_2_diabetes.html

http://www.health.com/health/condition-article/0,,20433424,00.html

http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/Diabetes/insulin-resistance-prediabetes/Pages/index.aspx

http://www.diabetes.co.uk/insulin/insulin-sensitivity.html

https://examine.com/faq/how-do-i-increase-insulin-sensitivity/

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