when do you need insulin therapy?

December 27, 2023by Dr. Shehrezad Czar0

Insulin therapy, a mainstay in the management of diabetes, is crucial for controlling blood sugar levels in individuals unable to produce or properly use insulin. Understanding when therapy is required and how to commence treatment is vital for those living with diabetes or those at risk. This article provides an in-depth look at the triggers for therapy and offers a step-by-step guide on getting started.

Understanding its Role

It is a hormone produced by the pancreas, vital for regulating blood glucose levels. It helps cells absorb glucose from the blood, used for energy or stored for future use. Therapy is often required when the body cannot produce sufficient insulin (Type 1 Diabetes) or effectively use the insulin it produces (Type 2 Diabetes).

When is Insulin Therapy Needed?

Type 1 Diabetes: Individuals with Type 1 Diabetes require insulin therapy from the onset, as their bodies do not produce it.

Type 2 Diabetes: Those with Type 2 Diabetes may need it if lifestyle changes and oral medications do not adequately control blood glucose levels. Typically, this need emerges as the disease progresses and the pancreas’ ability to produce this vital hormone decreases.

Gestational Diabetes: Some pregnant women develop gestational diabetes and require it to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, ensuring the well-being of both mother and baby.

Pancreatic Conditions: Conditions affecting the pancreas, such as pancreatitis or pancreatic surgery, may necessitate therapy.

Indicators for Starting Therapy

Consistently High Blood Sugar Levels: Despite medications and lifestyle changes, persistent high blood sugar levels indicate the need for insulin.

Elevated HbA1c Levels: An HbA1c level above the target range set by healthcare professionals is a key indicator.

Symptoms of Poor Blood Sugar Control: Symptoms such as fatigue, excessive thirst, frequent urination, and blurred vision despite other treatments may necessitate therapy.

Types of Insulin Therapy

Basal: This long-acting insulin maintains blood glucose levels stable throughout the day and night.

Bolus: Rapid-acting or short-acting insulin taken before meals to manage the rise in blood sugar after eating.

Premixed: A combination of long-acting and short-acting insulin, suitable for some patients.

Pump Therapy: A continuous insulin delivery system for more precise blood sugar management.

Preparing for Therapy

Educational Sessions: Patients should attend educational sessions to learn about its types, injection techniques, blood sugar monitoring, and managing potential side effects.

Determining the Right Regimen: The healthcare provider will recommend an insulin type and regimen based on individual health needs, lifestyle, and preferences.

Learning Injection Techniques: It’s important to learn the proper technique for insulin injection for effective treatment and to minimize discomfort.

Implementing Therapy

Starting with a Low Dose: Initially, a lower dose of it is prescribed and gradually adjusted based on blood sugar monitoring results.

Monitoring and Adjusting Dosage: Regular blood sugar monitoring is essential. The dose may need adjustments based on factors like diet, activity level, and illness.

Lifestyle Modifications: A balanced diet and regular physical activity are crucial in managing diabetes effectively alongside therapy.

Addressing Fears and Concerns

Many people have concerns about starting insulin therapy, such as fear of needles, worries about hypoglycemia, or the perceived stigma of insulin use. Education, support from healthcare teams, and connecting with support groups can help alleviate these concerns.

The Importance of Support Systems

Having a support system, including healthcare providers, family, and peer support groups, is vital for successfully managing diabetes with therapy.

Technological Advances in Therapy

Technological advancements, such as insulin pens, pumps, and continuous glucose monitoring systems, have made therapy more manageable and less invasive.

Long-term Management

Therapy is typically a long-term treatment. Ongoing education, regular healthcare appointments, and adapting the insulin regimen to changes in health status are essential for maintaining optimal diabetes control.


Insulin therapy is a critical component of diabetes management for many individuals. Recognizing when it’s needed and understanding how to start and manage treatment are key to controlling blood sugar levels and maintaining overall health. With proper education, support, and care, therapy can be effectively integrated into daily life, helping individuals with diabetes lead full, healthy lives.

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