Is Insulin A Hormone?

3 min read

Yes.  Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas.  The pancreas is a glad situated behind the stomach that helps the body process glucose for energy.  Glucose is a form of sugar and is found generally in carbohydrates.

 How does insulin work?

The way it works is that the digestive tract breaks down carbohydrates and converts them to glucose.  Glucose migrates into the bloodstream through the small intestine.  Once glucose is in the blood, insulin will allow the cells to absorb the sugar and turn it into energy.

 

If there is too much glucose in the blood, insulin notifies the body to store excess glucose in the liver.  When the glucose levels are lower, it is released.  The lower glucose levels are generally between meals or in times of stress.

 Types of Diabetes

When the body doesn't use insulin properly or doesn't produce enough insulin, the diagnosis is diabetes. 

•         Type 1 – This is considered an autoimmune disease.  The body simply cannot produce insulin. The body's immune system has malfunctioned and destroyed all the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin.  This is a condition that is more common in young people but certainly can occur in adults.

•         Type 2 – In this case the body needs more insulin to get the same effects, so it produces more in order to keep glucose levels normal.  After too many years of overproduction, the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin wear out.  This can happen at any age but most commonly in later life.

 

Insulin injections are used to replace the insulin the body is unable to produce.  Type 1 diabetics must inject insulin.  Type 2 diabetics can often regulate the insulin through lifestyle changes and oral medications.  If these measures are ineffective, the type 2 diabetic will need to begin insulin injections.

 

All types of insulin produce the same effect, they imitate the natural insulin that is no longer being produced.  However, there are some variants in the type of insulin available.

•         Rapid-acting – This insulin takes effect about 15 minutes after injection and lasts for about three or four hours.  It is most generally used before meals.

•         Short-acting – This begins working in about 30 to 60 minutes and will last five to eight hours. Again, this is generally taken before a meal.

•         Intermediate-acting – This will take about one or two hours to work but the effects last 14 to 16 hours.

•         Long-acting – Although this does not take effect for as much as two hours, it will last 24 hours or longer.

 

The need to inject insulin means significant lifestyle changes including monitoring blood glucose levels regularly and knowing when and how much to inject.  Under the care of a physician, you can create an effective treatment plan that can help keep you as healthy as possible for as long as possible.  It is important to treat this condition seriously and to keep all regular appointments, test blood as directed, and follow any other instructions.

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