August 12, 2014

Insulin Myths and Problems They Cause – Part 2

This is a continuation of the previous blog.

Myth 4: “If I am placed on insulin therapy, I will gain weight.”
Some people with Type 2 diabetes may gain weight after starting insulin therapy. Yes, this is true if people going in insulin do not cut the number of carbohydrates. This is because of improved blood glucose control. Uncontrolled diabetes causes people to lose weight because glucose cannot get to the cells in the body. When insulin is introduced, glucose can be absorbed from the carbohydrates eaten, leading to some of the weight that was previously lost being regained, but only if they do not reduce carbohydrates consumed.

The good news is that weight gain tends to level out as insulin therapy continues, and the weight gain may be temporary. Ultimately, the benefits of good blood glucose control will reduce the risk of complications and should take priority. By reducing carbohydrate consumption, often weight gain is stopped before too much weight is added. Adopting a low carbohydrate, high fat, medium protein meal plan, can prevent added weight gain and allow weight lost if needed.

Myth 5: “Insulin causes complications like blindness, amputations, and kidney failure.”
Part of the reason behind the “negative image” of insulin is that physicians have historically used it as a warning to keep their patients motivated and focused on oral medication therapies. It’s no wonder that people who try their best, but inevitably need insulin therapy, often feel guilty. Another reason this is believed is that many people have known people with these complications that developed before insulin, but insulin therapy is all they can remember.

Doctors commonly delay starting insulin due to their own lack of knowledge about the treatment. Some of these include a fear of causing low blood glucose or a concern that their patients will not adhere to an insulin regimen. The result is that insulin is often added to therapy too late in the course of diabetes. The reality is that people do not develop complications from being started on insulin, but rather, they develop complications from being started on insulin too late. Insulin actually reduces your risk of getting complications. Adding insulin to your treatment can improve your control and result in fewer complications than you would have had otherwise.

Hopefully, these myths about insulin will go away as doctors begin insulin therapy sooner rather than later and people with diabetes become more educated about insulin treatment. So if your physician tells you its time to add insulin to your regimen, just remember, diabetes is a chronic illness. The longer you’ve had type 2 diabetes, the more likely you are to need insulin. Insulin can provide improved blood glucose control and slow or prevent the development of complications. The following are more insulin myths.

Myth 6: “Insulin causes sterility and sexual dysfunction.”
This happens when insulin is delayed for too long and oral medications are no longer effective. Doctors need to lose their fears and become more knowledgeable.

Myth 7: “Insulin use is the beginning of the end.”
This is because doctors use insulin as treatment of last resort. People that let their doctors get away with this can fall into this myth, making it true. I have been on insulin for about 11 years and even at age 72, I feel I have many more years to look forward to and enjoy.

Myth 8: “Insulin is toxic.”
The number of people that find this true is very small. Most are allergic to something in the manufactured insulins and some are allergic to the animal insulins. Animal insulins are no longer available in the United States, but can be legally imported by doctors for those in need.

Myth 9: “Insulin use will label me as a drug addict.”
I have been questioned by the police about my use of syringes. Fortunately, I had the insulin there and the pharmacy RX on the box and after checking, the officer was very polite.

Myth 10: “Insulin use is an inconvenience.”
This is true, but only if you let be an inconvenience. Your diabetes health is too important for you to let this be a reason for avoiding insulin. In the almost 11 full years of using insulin, I have injected when in view of others, in private, and I refuse to use unsanitary bathrooms. On airplanes, I have been allowed to use the food gallery when it was not in use.

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