INSULIN: What It Does
Learning about natural production and synthetic use of this diabetes-related hormone
Everyone needs insulin to live, but not everyone's body is capable of making and using insulin. Without enough insulin, people develop diabetes.
Insulin is a hormone manufactured in the pancreas that controls many of the body's major chemical activities. Its most essential role is to help the cells use or store blood glucose as a source of energy. Glucose comes from the foods we eat, primarily carbohydrates, and also from the liver. Without insulin, foods consumed raise blood sugar levels to an unhealthy degree, eventually leading to life-threatening complications.
Prior to the development of synthetic insulin in 1921, many individuals with diabetes lost weight uncontrollably and died within a year of diagnosis. Today, thanks to advances in diabetes treatment (including improvements in insulin therapy), adults and children with diabetes can lead long, full lives.
The synthetic insulin in use today comes in different preparations: fast-acting, regular, intermediate-acting and long-acting. The time period in which each works differs. It is important to know the three time points of any insulin taken: the onset (when it starts to act), peak (when it's most efficient) and duration (how long it works). Often, a combination of preparations is prescribed in an effort to mimic normal insulin function.
For more about Insulin, click on:
INSULIN: How to Administer It
INSULIN: Is It Necessary?
INSULIN: Non-Insulin Drug Therapy