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Diabetes Related Injections: Will There Ever Be a Better Way?

At the moment, being on the receiving end of a diabetes diagnosis means that you’ll have to resign yourself to routinely being poked, prodded and otherwise injected with sharp instruments. However, news published in July 2014, as well as earlier in the year, indicates that may change in the future.

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The July headlines focused on type 1 diabetes and the FOXO1 gene. The gene’s connection to both major types of diabetes has been studied several times before and as a result, it is widely believed to play a significant role in metabolism. The latest study shows that with the right manipulation, it may significantly reduce the amount of injections needed to manage a person’s health.

Additional headlines from the months prior revealed that researchers from across the globe are currently working on other injection alternatives as well. The list of options presently in development includes, but is not restricted to oral medications, handheld inhalers, artificial organs, islet cell transplants and certain forms of weight loss surgery. Understandably, not all of the treatments are ready for prime time.

That said, there are at least diabetes supplies available that have the potential to make living with frequent injections a bit more bearable. Ultra thin lancets, safety lancets, ultrasoft lancing devices and fast clicking lancet devices are just four categories of diabetes products that are making diabetics’ lives a bit easier.

Furthermore, diabetes testing has also gotten a lot more precise and high tech since Sir Edward Albert Sharpey-Schafer first started looking at people’s islets of Langerhans. Today, people have access to devices like glucose meter docking stations, talking monitors, diabetes management software, wearable alarms, portable insulin coolers and a stunning variety of insulin pumps.

To learn more about each of them, please contact us online or by phone at Diabetes Health Supplies. We carry major brands, like i-port, Briggs and Medline. Plus, we offer special deals on state-of-the-art diabetes supplies throughout the year.

Understanding How Insulin Works

The purpose of insulin produced by the pancreas is to breakdown sugar to release energy. However, if insulin malfunctions, or is not produced at all or in sufficient quantity it remains in the blood stream leading to severe medical complications in the long run if not checked immediately. Lack of glucose assimilation makes a person feel perpetually tired and lethargic.

How insulin works

Insulin can be compared to a lock that unlocks the body cells so that glucose can be assimilated into the body. Insulin is a hormone and hormones play a critical role in metabolic functions of the body. For some reason, insulin production is either completely stopped or partially stopped in the human body leading to high blood sugar levels. However, insulin can be artificially administered externally, so that the metabolic functions in the body begin to take place normally, bringing down the blood glucose levels.

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Types of insulin

Insulin, both artificially manufactured and naturally occurring in the human body are of different types. In the US, they are labeled according to their strength. So, they come labeled under U-40 and U-100. In exceptional cases, some people may need U-500. In addition, the naturally occurring insulin is available in two ways. Basal insulin is slow and continuously trickle, while bolus insulin is a burst of insulin released by the pancreas after meals in response to rising blood sugar levels. There are a variety of over the counter glucose tablets and gels that also can help maintain or boost blood sugar in place of meals.

Insulin to make life simple

Insulin makes life easy for diabetics. There are unfounded misconceptions about insulin that it may cause blindness or others will think you are an addict. These are unfounded notions. A large population of the world is insulin dependent. In addition, there are several ways you can administer insulin other than through injections. However, injecting insulin is not difficult or complicated once you learn how to do it. Once you get used to insulin, it will make your life easier and convenient without the threat of complications.

Innovative New Method for Insulin Delivery in Diabetics

For diabetics, leading a normal life means being dependent on external doses of insulin. Blood glucose levels must be monitored from time to time and appropriate amounts of insulin must be administered through syringes or insulin pumps. This is not an optimal solution though because blood glucose cannot be monitored constantly and the administered insulin might not always be the correct amount.

Researchers are looking for ways to automate the process of blood glucose monitoring and insulin pumping but it might still take a long time before both can be combined effectively into “artificial pancreas.” In another breakthrough, researchers have found a way to organically mimic the work of a blood glucose detector and insulin pump.

New material

In a joint effort by the North Carolina State University, Boston Children’s Hospital, the University of North Carolina, and MIT, a new material has been synthesized that is sponge-like and can be chemically triggered to expand when it comes in contact with blood glucose. This material is commonly found in the shells of crabs and shrimps and is called chitosan.

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How does it work?

The idea is to encapsulate insulin within a spherical structure made of this material. When the material comes in contact with a large enough concentration of blood glucose, its pores open up and release insulin until the blood glucose levels recede. After that the pores close back to contain the remaining insulin. Further research is needed to study its effects better to determine the safety of this process. If it is considered safe, it will open up possibilities for treating other diseases similarly.

Treating Diabetes with the Help of Insulin

In a normal body, insulin is produced in adequate amounts that are required to break down blood glucose levels. If here is little or no insulin produced by the body, it leads to diabetes.

In Type 1 diabetes, insulin is either not produced by the body at all or is produced at a low level. In Type 2 diabetes, the body develops an insulin resistance where the cells carrying glucose in the blood do not react to the insulin.

The role played by insulin

The digestion process results in the conversion of food into glucose which travels through the blood stream, to be converted into energy by insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas. In a diabetic body, the pancreas no longer produces the necessary amount of insulin to process the blood glucose into energy. This causes the accumulation of glucose in the bloodstream, causing the symptoms of the disease.

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Due to the reduction in the production of insulin in the body, external insulin doses are given to supplement the body’s internal production. Insulin cannot be taken in a pill or tonic as it loses its structure in the digestive system and becomes useless. It must be administered by injecting it into the skin between two and four times a day depending on the needs of the body. It can also be administered by insulin pumps, inhalers, and a few other methods, though injection is the most widely used method at present.

Insulin is available in variants that are active for differing time periods, from being active for about an hour to being active for close to a day. Diabetics who are in advanced stages of the disease get used to the external intake of insulin. So it must be continued for the lifetime of the person, till they undergo a pancreas transplant, or until a cure is found.

Types of Insulin To Treat Diabetes

Insulin is primarily a hormone that is tasked with treating diabetes by controlling the amount of glucose (or sugar) present in the blood. Insulin is used in the treatment of all types of diabetes, but may be used in combination with other substances to be an effective cure.

Types of Insulin

While we know that insulin is an important part of most diabetes treatments, there also exist noninsulin-based diabetic treatments. There are a few different types of insulin that are classified into categories based on how fast they start to have an effect on the body, and on the duration of their effect. Insulin is delivered through an insulin pump which can be worn at on the hip or back with an insulin pump case.

  • The first type of insulin is known as rapid acting insulin and its name is derived from the fact that the effects of the insulin are noticeable within a few minutes of administering the dosage. The effect of rapid acting insulin lasts for a few hours, before it starts to wear off.
  • Regular or short acting insulin will start to have a noticeable effect in the individual within about 30 minutes, from the time of administration, and last for between 3 to 6 hours.
  • Intermediate varieties of insulin will have a noticeable effect between 2 to 4 hours after being administered and start to wear off after a period of 18 hours.
  • The long acting varieties of insulin will take effect between six to ten hours from administration and last for a whole day.

Your physician will decide the type of insulin that will work best for your body. He or she may also suggest other medications to be used along with the insulin for more effective treatment.

Food Items that Help Type 1 Diabetics to be Less Insulin Dependent

There are two main forms of diabetes that lead to elevated levels of glucose in the patient’s bloodstream – Type 1 and Type 2. In Type 1 Diabetes, the pancreas fails to produce insulin, a hormone needed for proper metabolism. Thus, in this case, insulin needs to be injected into the body to aid metabolism  typically using an insulin pump.

 Certain acids in food good for Diabetes

A research conducted at Chapel Hill, by the University of North Carolina revealed that acids present in certain foods had the ability to minimize the dependence on insulin supplements in individuals suffering from Type 1 Diabetes in addition to reducing the risks related to the condition. The research concluded that the acids – leucine and omega 3 fatty acids could rekindle the production of insulin by the pancreas for as long as two years, post diagnosis. The study based on observing thirteen hundred people, right from children to adults aged twenty – diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, was published in the July issue of the journal ‘Diabetes Care’.

Food items that help

Leucine and omega 3 fatty acids are food items that could prove to be advantageous to patients suffering from Type 1 Diabetes. Studies have proved that these acids have the ability to stimulate the production of insulin in these individuals, thereby reducing their dependence on insulin supplements for a couple of years after diagnosis.

Eggs, soy proteins and meats are the richest sources of leucine and are highly recommended as part of the diet for a Type 1 Diabetes patient. Nuts, dairy products, whole-wheat products, seaweed and tuna are other good sources of leucine. Seafood such as salmon, sardines, mackerel and tuna are rich sources of omega 3 fatty acids. Sprinkling a pinch of powdered flax seeds over food is also recommended since it is highly nutritious.

Pig Cells to Help in Insulin Delivery

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that hinders the body’s capacity to metabolize sugar, either caused by the non-production of insulin by the pancreas or through the inability of the body to use the insulin produced. Over the years, patients with Type 1 diabetes have been injected with insulin supplements to keep their blood glucose levels in control. However, this is not a complete cure for diabetes. A new study by the Northwestern University in Illinois has revealed that pig cells may be the solution.

Islet cells present in the Pancreas

Islets of Langerhans or islet cells are present in the pancreas .These are responsible for producing various hormones. The islets are made up of five different types of cells, one type being the Beta cells that are responsible for the production of insulin. Insulin is essential as it is needed for the proper metabolism of food and regulates the blood sugar levels in the body.

In individuals diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, the beta cells are attacked by the immune system, leaving them incapable of producing insulin. Hence, a person suffering from this form of diabetes is forced to take insulin supplements.

How pig cells can help

Transplantation of islet cells could be the solution for diabetics. However, human islet transplantation hasn’t been all that successful due to the dearth of donors and the chances of rejection by the patient’s body. In order to avoid rejection, immunosuppressant drugs have to be administered and the entire process could leave the individual feeling rather ill.

This is where pig cells come into the limelight with the Northwestern University of Illinois studying the impact of the use of islets from pigs. They are more readily available as compared to human cells and seem to pose minimal risk of rejection by the patient’s body.

However, it is advisable that only those who are facing major complications with regard to elevated blood sugar levels consider islet transplantation.

Insulin Facts

Insulin is one of the most important treatments when it comes to battling diabetes. Insulin is primarily a hormone substance that allows our bodies to absorb glucose from the blood. Without insulin, the body will not be able to collect the glucose it needs from the blood, leading to a number of very serious medical conditions to develop within the body.

Injecting Insulin

There are a number of ways to introduce insulin into the body. While the syringe and needle system are the most common methods of doing so, you could also use the more modern methods of a prefilled pen or cartridge system insulin treatments. Insulin pumps are also available at most medical stores.

Where you introduce the insulin into your body will determine how soon your body is able to use it. For instance, injecting the insulin into the abdominal region will allow your body to absorb the insulin faster than anywhere else on the body. The arms, thighs, and buttocks are the next best options if you want fast action of the insulin. It is essential to inject the insulin shots in the same place, once the dosage has started, as this helps prevent the breakdown and scarring of fat tissue beneath the skin.

Side effects of Insulin

As with most medical treatments, there is always the chance of side effects and some of the more common problems with insulin include low blood sugar, rashes developing at the site of the injection, or even an enlargement of the area where too many insulin injections have been administered.

Dosage

The dosage will depend largely on the kind of diabetes you suffer from, as well as the severity of the same. It is essential that you consult your physician regarding the dosages for you.

Taking the Insulin Injection the Correct Way

Diabetes mellitus is a condition where the body cannot manufacture adequate amounts of insulin needed to metabolize glucose (blood sugar), or the body does not recognize the insulin produced, leading to an excess of glucose in the body in either case. If the condition is not under control, a diabetic may need to introduce insulin artificially into the body by injecting a set dose periodically.

The procedure to be followed to inject insulin

Wash your hands thoroughly and clean the part of your body, where you want to make the injection, with alcohol. Take the bottle or syringe of the correct type of insulin out of refrigeration, and roll it gently between your palms for a short while and do not shake. This helps mix the insulin evenly. Take the precise amount of insulin and tap out air bubbles, if any, from the syringe.

Insulin is known to be best absorbed at the abdomen. Relax your abdominal muscles, gently pinch the area where you want to make the injection between your fingers and pierce the skin all the way to the hub of the syringe needle at a 45 or 90-degree angle, so that the insulin is injected into the fatty tissue of the skin, and not the muscle. Do not inject into the same spot each time. Rotate between different spots on the abdomen, preferably at least farther than an inch from each other.

Once injected, remove the needle in the same angle as of entry. If the site of injection is bleeding, use a cotton swab and apply pressure. It is best to dispose syringes after a single use, as the syringe loses sterility after use and carries a chance of infection with subsequent uses. Keep the insulin bottle back in the fridge as it must be stored refrigerated.

Bioadhesives to Help Make Insulin Pills

It is now possible to swallow insulin pills rather than inject insulin with same efficacy. Insulin is a protein based drug that must go from the stomach to the small intestine, be absorbed and then transported through the blood stream. Researchers have found that bioadhesive makes it possible to better absorb nano-particles, so insulin pills can be easily assimilated in the blood stream.

The problem with insulin pills

The problem with insulin pills in the absence of this technology is that they cannot be easily absorbed in the small intestine and therefore cannot travel to the bloodstream. The basic problem that the scientists faced was – how to enhance the intestinal uptake of insulin? The other problem was the acidic environment of the stomach which interferes with the dissolution of insulin in the small intestine. Insulin being a protein based drug. When it is taken orally rather than through injection reaches the stomach safely and from there goes to the small intestine where it is absorbed. Finally, the insulin must find the way to the blood stream.

What difference do bioadhesives make?

With the intervention of bioadhesives, it is now possible to circumvent the problem faced earlier. Bioadhesive coating has been found to significantly enhance insulin uptake. In other words, the experiment in rodents has shown that bioadhesives makes micro and nano particle absorption in small intestine easy.

More specifically nano-particles with the help of bioadhesives can stick to the mucosal lining of the intestine so that they are sucked in by the epithelial cells and finally get into the blood stream. The nano-particles carry the protein based medicine. The new finding promises to have a great application potential which will make insulin pills safe and effective for consumption.

Diabetics are at High Risk of Developing Ketoacidosis

If hyperglycemia or excess blood sugar is left untreated, it can lead to an emergency condition called diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), which can be potentially life-threatening. People with type 1 diabetes are more at risk to develop this condition than the ones with type 2 diabetes. The condition occurs primarily due to lack of insulin. When there is no insulin, the body finds it impossible to use glucose for energy and goes into starvation mode, where stored fat in the body is used for glucose.

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The fat that gets released is turned to ketones but the absorption of ketones becomes slower than their production; so, they get accumulated in the urine. On the other hand, the high sugar also gets into the urine making the body extremely dehydrated. The process takes several hours to take effect. The common symptoms include excessive thirst and urination, dehydration, drowsiness, vomiting, abdominal pain, fruity smelling breath, difficulty with breathing, and ketones in the urine.

It is vital that diabetics have a tool handy to check for ketones in the urine. Bayer Ketostix can be used to check the ketones at any time. These test strips offer a simple and fast method to check the levels in the urine wherein you can become aware of your condition and call the doctor immediately if the ketone levels are high. Each box of Bayer Ketostix contains 50 strips. Following your doctor’s instructions carefully and taking insulin as prescribed can prevent diabetic ketoacidosis but always look out for the above-mentioned symptoms.

Insulin Varieties

Insulin is an important peptide or protein chain hormone consisting of 51 amino acids in each molecule. It is produced in the pancreas to help extract energy from nutrients that are ingested, especially glucose, during metabolism. When your body is unable to produce its own insulin to keep up with your dietary intake, you get diabetes. It is treated by using varieties of insulin obtained from other animals having similar insulin, like cows.

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There are four different insulin varieties that are used for treating diabetes based on its onset (time taken to start working), peak (time when it is working best), and duration (how long it will work). Rapid acting insulin is a type that is quickly absorbed and starts working within 15 minutes of injection. However, it lasts only for 2-5 hours and is only used for emergencies. Humalog and Novolog are 2 types of rapid-acting insulin.

Short acting insulin is another type that kicks in by 30-60 minutes after injection and the effects last for only about 3-8 hours. Novolin R and Humulin R are 2 types of this short-acting variety of insulin. Intermediate acting insulin is a kind that takes between 1-4 hours to kick in and the effects of this medication lasts for up to 12-18 hours. Two examples of this type of insulin are Humulin N and Novolin N. Long acting insulin takes between 1-10 hours to begin working, but once it does, it delivers a constant stream of insulin for as long as 24 hours. Lantus and Levemir are 2 examples of this kind of insulin.

In addition to this, you might also be advised by your doctor and prescribed a premixed combination of rapid-acting and intermediate-acting insulin.

Keep your insulin vials, pens, syringes and insulin pump cool and at safe temperatures while traveling or while in extreme heat without the need of a refrigerator with the FRIO Insulin Cooler Wallet.