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Insulin and type 2 diabetes: 5 facts you should know

Has your healthcare provider talked to you about insulin? For many people, this can bring on mixed feelings and questions—often based on myths that simply are not true. Here are 5 facts to keep in mind.

  1. Diabetes is an insulin problem, not a sugar problem. After all, sugar doesn't cause diabetes. People with type 2 diabetes don't manufacture enough insulin, or their bodies can't use it properly, so they're unable to process the food they take in.1 Sometimes it takes insulin to solve an insulin problem.
  2. Moving to insulin is normal for most people. Needing insulin doesn't mean you've failed at diabetes care. Diabetes is a progressive disease, meaning that even when you manage your blood glucose beautifully, your body is likely to create less insulin, or uses it less efficiently, as time goes on.2 Eventually, diabetes is likely to progress beyond a point where oral medications and other options can keep blood sugar levels in a safe range.1In fact, the majority of people with type 2 diabetes start insulin within 5 to 10 years of being diagnosed.3
  3.  Other type 2 diabetes medications aren't the same as insulin. Pills you take by mouth and other injection drugs are not insulin. Instead, these help your body use the insulin it already makes. Insulin can't be taken orally, as it would be broken down by the stomach before it could be absorbed into the bloodstream. That's why it's injected under the skin.
  4. Insulin injections don't hurt the way you might think. Nobody likes shots, but many people are surprised to find out that it's much easier than they expected.1   And now that other diabetes medications are being delivered by injection, chances are you've already gotten comfortable with injecting.
  5. Insulin isn't the cause of problems with feet, eyes and other parts of the body. Perhaps you've heard about someone starting insulin and then having problems with their eyes or feet. Rest assured, insulin didn't cause the problem. In fact, starting insulin sooner might have helped prevent or delay those health issues.1

Many people find that moving to insulin has a positive effect. After all, with better blood sugar control comes more energy and feeling better overall.1 So yes, your life may change—maybe for the better.

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The majority of people with type 2 diabetes start insulin within 5 to 10 years of being diagnosed.3

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An obstacle is often a stepping stone.

5 things to know about insulin and type 2 diabetes

  1. Diabetes means your body doesn't make enough insulin or doesn't use insulin properly. Sometimes it takes insulin to solve an insulin problem.
  2. Diabetes is progressive—most people with type 2 diabetes start insulin within 5 to 10 years of being diagnosed.3
  3. Other type 2 diabetes medications are not the same as insulin.
  4. Insulin injections don't hurt the way you might think.
  5. Insulin does not cause eye, foot or other health problems. Often, these issues are the result of starting insulin too late.1

1American Diabetes Association. Insulin myths and facts. Clinical Diabetes. 2007;25:39-40. Available at: http://clinical.diabetesjournals.org/content/diaclin/25/1/39.full.pdf. Accessed June 30, 2014.

2American Diabetes Association. Standards of medical care in diabetes—2015 [position statement]. Diabetes Care. 2015;33(1): S4-S93. Available at: http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/suppl/2014/12/23/38.Supplement_1.DC1/January_Supplement_Combined_Final.6-99.pdf. Accessed June 30, 2015.

3International Diabetes Federation. Diabetes education modules 2011: clinical monitoring. Available at: http://www.idf.org/education/resources/modules-2011/download. Accessed June 30, 2015.

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