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What is Insulin?

Insulin is a hormone that occurs naturally in the body and is released by the pancreas. It is necessary to remove glucose from the blood to be used for cell functions. While many people maintain proper levels of insulin in their bodies naturally, others do not and must supplement their insulin with insulin therapy.

Insulin is available in three forms -- vials, cartridges and syringes -- and is injected into the body. Cartridges are used with a pen-like device for injections, while insulin syringes can come pre-filled or empty to be used with insulin vials. Along with injection, insulin pump therapy is also available. This method comes is often considered to be more convenient, but does come with its own risks. Talk to your doctor about which option is best for you.

Uses for Insulin

Insulin is used to treat both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin for the body, which causes an increase in blood glucose levels. Insulin therapy can help increase the levels of insulin.

In type 2 diabetes, the body does produce insulin, but cells show insulin resistance -- i.e., they do not show normal responses to the insulin that is present. In this case, insulin therapy is still effective because an increase in the amount of insulin can help the cells overcome their resistance and increase the glucose uptake, which then lowers the levels of glucose in the blood.

Possible Side Effects of Insulin

Side effects of insulin include thickening of skin, depression of skin, redness, swelling or itching around the injection site. Signs of allergic reaction to insulin include hives, rash, itching, tightening of the chest, difficulty breathing, increased heart rate, headache, fainting drowsiness and more. Seek medical help immediately if these symptoms of allergic reaction occur.

Warnings About Insulin

The information listed here regarding Insulin is for reference purposes only, and should not be used in place of medical advice. Always consult a doctor before introducing a new medication into your health regimen for correct dosage and treatment information, proper monitoring and further side effects or possible interactions with other medications.

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