Insulin is a hormone in the body that helps control glucose (sugar) levels in the blood. It helps transport glucose from the bloodstream to cells that use the sugar for energy.
People with type 1 diabetes are unable to make insulin. While those with type 2 diabetes can make insulin, the body is resistant to it and unable to use it appropriately. As a result (for both types of diabetes), glucose builds up in the bloodstream and the cells become starved, which can lead to serious health problems.
If you have diabetes, you may need to take insulin shots to make up for your body’s inability to make or use naturally occurring insulin. You may need anywhere from 1-4 shots a day. Aside from a needle, the medicine may also be given using a special pen or pump.
How much insulin you need depends on several factors, such as your:
- Body weight
- Body fat percentage
- Physical activity level
- Emotional health (including your stress level)
- Overall health
Last reviewedSeptember 2011by Lawrence Frisch, MD, MPH
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.