Oftentimes during my pharmacy practice interactions with patients, I realize that a good percentage of patients who are on medications for a condition do not have accurate information about their treatments. Moreover, they get inaccurate or wrongly interpreted bits and pieces about prescription drugs and their side effects from unreliable sources such as their neighbor, stories they heard from “Uncle Joe,” or some unreliable Internet site.

Those untrue claims become realities in the minds of many and cause them to make uninformed choices about their treatments — such as refusing to fill their prescriptions, taking them inaccurately or only when they feel sick, or stopping their treatment prematurely on their own without consulting with their doctor or pharmacist. You must not do that. Always take medications as prescribed and ask your doctor or pharmacist before making any changes.

Insulin is a very effective way to treat both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Getting on insulin is a good thing when it is required, and it does not mean that your condition has taken a nosedive.

People who have type 1 diabetes are dependent on injecting insulin from the time of diagnosis early on in life. However, those with type 2 diabetes may start with oral medications then may be prescribed insulin in conjunction with their oral treatment later on. Generally, after people have had type 2 diabetes for about 10 years, many may require insulin treatment. This is caused by what is called “beta cell exhaustion.” Beta cells in the pancreas are responsible for secreting insulin.

For someone with type 1, those cells are attacked and destroyed completely by that person’s immune system. However, for someone with type 2 diabetes, those cells are exhausted over time just like a pump in a well. The more you use that pump, the less time it will last. There are several contributing factors which cause that pump to be overworked, exhausted and unable to produce insulin any longer. Some of those factors include physical inactivity, excess weight, consuming excess calories, extent of blood glucose control, how early type 2 diabetes is diagnosed and brought under control, extent of insulin resistance and some oral diabetes medications referred to as pancreas stimulators, including Glyburide, Glipizide, Glimeperide and Chlorpropamide.

After years of wear and tear on the pancreas, many people with type 2 diabetes must be put on insulin to control their blood sugar. Some people may get on insulin much sooner and some others much later, depending on how many of and how long those factors mentioned above they have been exposed to.

This does not mean that their disease has worsened or that they’re going “downhill,” but rather that their diabetes requires insulin for sugar control.