Insulin review

Insulin is among the most popular prescriptions medications that people know. It is a naturally occurring hormone that is secreted by the pancreas. It is needed by cells to expel and use glucose from the blood. Glucose provides the cells the energy they need to execute their specific functions. Insulin is sold under a wide variety of brand names.

People suffering from diabetes mellitus are unable to take glucose from the blood, leading to the rise in the glucose level in their blood. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas is unable to produce sufficient amount of insulin for the cells. Meanwhile, in type 2 diabetes, though the patient produces sufficient amount of insulin, his cells do not respond normally to it. Insulin works by increasing the amount of glucose taken in by cells and reducing the amount of glucose in the blood. Doing either of these lowers the risk of long-term complications of diabetes, such as damage to kidneys, blood vessels, nerves, and nerves.

Insulin is administered subcutaneously (through injection under the skin). Injecting insulin in the subcutaneous tissue of the abdomen is ideal because it has been proven that the absorption of insulin is more reliable when done in this part than in other subcutaneous tissues.

However, the patient must avoid injecting insulin in the same site all the time to avoid lipodystrophy, the erosion of fat under the skin.

The most common side effect reported by people under insulin therapy is hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia manifests itself through heart palpitation, headache, nausea, tremor, muscle weakness, cold temperature, and even loss of consciousness. The hypoglycemic patient may also experience confusion, hunger, tiredness, nausea, excessive yawning, perspiration, tremor, loss of consciousness, muscle weakness, and irritability. To help prevent hypoglycemia, the patient has to eat meals regularly. When symptoms of hypoglycemia are experienced, the patient simply needs to take in glucose table sugar, honey, or soda.

People who have elevated blood sugar levels for an extended period of time and then suddenly have the levels go back down to normal may also experience blurred vision. Skin reactions (redness, swelling, itching or rash at the site of injection), allergic reactions, and general body swelling are also common. There are also reports of worsening of diabetic retinopathy, lipodystrophy (a change in the distribution of body fat), and sodium retention.

The site of insulin injection may also show a rash, redness, or irritation.

A couple of medications amplify the effects of insulin and may cause blood glucose to plummet to a toxic level (hypoglycemia). To avoid this, insulin dose should be lowered while being used along such drugs. These drugs include alcohol, beta-blockers like propranolol (Inderal), salicylates like aspirin (Bayer) or salsalate (Disalcid), MAO inhibitors such as phenelzine (Nardil), and anabolic steroids like methyltestosterone (Android).

Insulin is preferred over oral drugs in controlling diabetes mellitus among pregnant women. Regular human insulin is better than insulin aspart or insulin glargine for pregnant women since the latter two forms have not been tested in pregnant women. It has not been seen that insulin aspart, insulin glargine or insulin lispro is secreted in breast milk, so while breast feeding, glucose levels of both the mother and her child must be monitored.

• Molecular formula of insulin is C257H387N65O76S6
• Molecular weight is 5795.6 g/mol

Brand name(s): Humalog, Iletin II, Insulin Lispro, Insulin precursor, Lantus, Novolin R

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