When should a diabetic take insulin

Tablets or syringes - when will the change come?

For many type 2 diabetics, there comes a point at which therapy with blood sugar lowering tablets is no longer sufficient: They have to inject insulin. It is not uncommon for patients to fear this step, delay the change and thereby endanger their health. However, insulin therapy requires care, but not necessarily courage.

Type 2 diabetes is not diagnosed in many patients until the disease has existed for a few years. They have high blood sugar levels, but in many cases the pancreas still produces insulin. The basics of treating type 2 diabetes are a healthy and adequate diet, sufficient exercise and a normal body weight. Some diabetes patients even manage to get their disease under control in this way. If this is not enough to keep the blood sugar level stable, the doctor usually uses blood sugar-lowering tablets. They improve the action of insulin and thus the sugar metabolism or stimulate the pancreas to release more insulin. Sometimes the treatment with insulin is given in the form of injections at the same time. When tablets no longer work, the patient has to switch completely to insulin.

For fear of injections, many diabetic patients start insulin therapy late. However, special training courses can take these concerns away from those affected: They usually come to terms with the treatment quickly and find it uncomplicated and painless. Inadequate therapy with tablets, on the other hand, can have dangerous consequences: the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks increases. To avoid this, people with diabetes should “switch” to insulin in good time.

The doctor will decide on a case-by-case basis whether combination therapy is sufficient or whether pure insulin treatment is necessary to treat diabetes. For example, the age and weight of the patient and the course of the diabetes play a role. However, there are clear signs that indicate a lack of insulin in type 2 diabetes patients. For example, if the target blood sugar level is not reached despite therapy or if the patient suddenly loses weight unplanned, caution is advised. Diabetics who are often excessively thirsty, tired or susceptible to infections should speak to their doctor. As a rule, the younger and thinner the diabetes patient and the higher their blood sugar levels, the sooner insulin treatment should begin.

However, insulin is no substitute for a healthy diet and exercise, and neither is blood sugar-lowering tablets. For the optimal treatment of type 2 diabetes, the patient must be active himself: low-calorie and low-fat food combined with exercise plays a major role in this. Physical exercise several times a week increases the effect of the body's own insulin and lowers blood sugar. Type 2 diabetics can work with their doctor or nutritionist a plan that addresses their individual needs and takes personal taste into account. Insulin therapy, diet and exercise should be optimally coordinated.