In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas produces too little or no insulin, a hormone that helps your body generate energy. Without enough insulin, glucose builds up in the blood and urine. The body can't use this glucose for energy, so symptoms of type 1 diabetes result.
Along with high blood sugar, type 1 diabetes symptoms include frequent urination, increased thirst and hunger, and weight loss. Unless it's treated with a combination of insulin and healthy lifestyle habits, type 1 diabetes can be fatal.
How is Type 1 Diabetes Treated?
Treatment for type 1 diabetes involves insulin injections, regular exercise, a healthy diet, and monitoring blood sugar levels.
The overall goal of treatment is to keep your blood sugar at a normal level, or as close to normal as possible, in order to prevent complications.
What is Insulin?
A hormone produced by beta cells in the pancreas, insulin allows sugar (glucose) to enter cells. The cells store this sugar for later use as energy.
Insulin comes in the form of an injection (it's not available in pill form). However, some people may require an insulin pump, which can deliver short- or rapid-acting doses 24 hours a day through a catheter placed under the skin.
What are the Types of Insulin?
The type of insulin your doctor will prescribe depends on your individual condition and life style. In the United States, over 20 types of insulin are available. These types differ in the following ways:
• How they are made
• How they work in the body (how fast and how long they last)
• How much they cost
Types of insulin include:
• Rapid-acting: Used mainly with longer-acting insulin, rapid-acting insulin begins to work approximately five minutes after the initial injection. It peaks in one hour, lasts for two to four more hours after that and covers you for meals eaten at the same time as the injection.
• Short-Acting: Usually reaching the bloodstream within 30 minutes after injection, short-acting insulin peaks in about two to three hours. It covers your insulin needs for meals eaten within 30 to 60 minutes of injection and is effective for three to six hours.
• Intermediate-Acting Insulin: Often combined with rapid- or short-acting insulin, intermediate-acting insulin reaches the bloodstream in two to four hours after injection. It peaks in four to 12 hours, is effective for about 12 to 18 hours and covers insulin needs for half the day or overnight.
• Long-Acting Insulin: Usually effective for 24 hours, long-acting insulin reaches the bloodstream in six to 10 hours after injection. When needed, it's often combined with rapid- or short-acting insulin.
• Pre-Mixed Insulin: A combination of intermediate- and short-acting insulin in one bottle or insulin pen, pre-mixed insulin is generally taken twice a day before mealtimes. It's most helpful for people who have poor eyesight or dexterity and have difficulty drawing insulin from two bottles and reading correct dosages.
Managing Your Type 1 Diabetes
Diabetes is different for everyone. Be sure to talk with your doctor about the best insulin options for managing your type 1 diabetes.