The main type of medicine that most people with type 1 diabetes take is insulin. In type 1 diabetes, the organ that would usually make insulin in the body naturally, the pancreas, makes little or no insulin. Insulin helps sugar in the blood get into the cells where it can be used for energy. Without enough insulin, sugar can’t get into your cells where it is needed. Instead, this unused sugar builds up in the bloodstream where it can cause damage and over time can lead to diabetes-related health problems. High blood sugar makes most people with type 1 diabetes who are not being treated for it very ill.
People with type 1 diabetes need to replace the insulin the pancreas is no longer making. They can do this by taking insulin using:
- An insulin pen
- A vial and syringe
- An insulin pump
- An inhaler (for adults only)
While most people taking insulin use insulin pens or traditional vial and syringe, insulin pumps are growing in popularity.
If you have type 1 diabetes, you will need insulin coverage 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year in order to control blood sugar. In fact, most people with type 1 diabetes either need to take multiple daily injections of insulin or continuous insulin infusion using an insulin pump. They also need to monitor their blood sugar using frequent blood sugar checks or by wearing a CGM (continuous glucose monitor). Blood sugar checks throughout the day and night are the best way to do this.
The goal of insulin therapy is to provide the body with replacement insulin in a pattern that matches the way the pancreas would release insulin in someone who does not have diabetes.
Talk to your health care provider about using insulin appropriately and about the risks and benefits of insulin therapy.
Let the health care provider know about all the medicines being taken, even vitamins and herbal remedies, because some medicines don’t work as effectively when they are mixed with others.