Information on diabetes says If your doctor has prescribed insulin as a diabetes treatment, here’s what to know about avoiding low blood sugar, weight gain, and other potential complications.Faced with the prospect of daily insulin injections, you may be more worried about needles and syringes than potential health risks of this diabetes treatment. In fact, insulin has been so finely tuned that health risks, side effects, and complications from insulin therapy for people with type 2 diabetes are fewer than ever before. Information on diabetes says That doesn’t mean problems don’t exist, but most are easily overcome with proper education, close communication with your doctor, and following his or her directions.Here are some potential side effects of insulin therapy that you should know about:
A six-year study done at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, looked at a variety of possible outcomes of insulin use and confirmed that the treatment can lead to weight gain. But the researchers found that the average amount of weight participants put on was modest — about 3.5 pounds over the course of the study.Insulin is a growth hormone that promotes the storage of essential nutrients, including fats, which can be a problem if you need to lose weight. Information on diabetes Work with your doctor or a dietitian to map out a weight-loss strategy.
Low Blood Sugar (Hypoglycemia)
Information on diabetes says that Low blood sugar is the most serious complication associated with insulin. Also referred to as insulin reaction, it occurs when your blood sugar drops below a certain level. If your insulin dose is too high or is delivered too quickly, your blood sugar level may drop so low that it can impair brain function. In the most severe and untreated cases, low blood sugar can cause you to have a seizure, pass out, or even go into a coma.Signs and symptoms of low blood sugar include feeling weak, drowsy, or dizzy, experiencing shakiness, confusion, anxiety, nausea, or headache, blurred vision, and sometimes a loss of consciousness.
Although not always possible to do, the only way to know for certain if you’re experiencing low blood sugar is to test your blood sugar level — a reading under 70 mg/dl often indicates hypoglycemia. Information on diabetes says Some people can dip to that level without any signs or symptoms, especially if they’ve had diabetes for a long time. If you test and see low blood sugar numbers yet feel no effects, talk to your doctor.To treat low blood sugar, Take a glucose tablet (“sugar pill”) or sip a sugary drink as soon as you see a dangerous blood sugar reading or detect any signs or symptoms. This will bring your blood sugar level back up.
Information on diabetes says To prevent low blood sugar, it’s important to understand how insulin works and to be vigilant about your treatment regimen, says Joel Zonszein, MD, director of clinical diabetes at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, N.Y. Make sure your doctor spends the time necessary to teach you what you need to know about insulin therapy for type 2 diabetes. Information on diabetes says “Everyone who takes insulin should know how to monitor their blood sugar,” says Aaron Cypess, MD, PhD, MMSc, an assistant professor at the Harvard Medical School and an assistant investigator and staff physician at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston. But don’t think of your initial insulin education as all you’ll ever need — have your doctor repeatedly review the signs and symptoms of low blood sugar with you, he says. “The problem with insulin is that it has a very narrow range that works, and finding that proper range can be tricky.”
As with virtually every drug, there is the potential for a negative interaction with other medications you’re taking, even over-the-counter drugs and dietary supplements. Information on diabetes says Possible insulin interactions include alpha and beta blockers and other high blood pressure drugs, steroids, hormone-based contraceptive pills, asthma and cold medications, aspirin, thyroid medications, and even other diabetes drugs. Always go over all of the medications you take with all of your doctors you see and your pharmacist to prevent problems.
Allergic Reactions and Infections
Information on diabetes says Because insulin formulations are no longer dependent on early sources such as pigs or cows, allergic reactions are much less common. Still, mild reactions may include swelling, itching, redness at the injection site, nausea, and vomiting.You can avoid infection from insulin use by using disposable needles and syringes and by sterilizing reusable equipment.