Information, Symptoms, Treatments and Resources


Find Out About Insulin


There's a lot of lingo thrown at you when you have diabetes. Here we've collected the must-know terms and translated them into plain language.



What it means: Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas in response to rising blood glucose levels. Its primary role is to “unlock” the cells of your body so they let in glucose for energy. It also helps the body store extra glucose in the liver for later use. When insulin works as it should, glucose in the bloodstream stays at a healthy level.

What it means to you: If you have type 1 diabetes, your body doesn’t make any or enough insulin and you need to take synthetic insulin to compensate. If you have type 2 diabetes, your body may still make insulin, but can’t use it properly. This is called insulin resistance. You need to take oral or injectable medicine or synthetic insulin to bring your blood sugar into a safe range. Some people develop both these conditions — lack of insulin and insulin resistance.

There are many types of insulin available today. Insulin is classified by how fast it starts to work, when it reaches peak effectiveness, and how long it keeps working (for example, rapid-acting, long-acting). Most insulin is taken by syringe, injection pen or insulin pump. There is now also an inhaled insulin product. Your diabetes care provider can help you decide which type of insulin is right for you.


Published on February 23, 2015. 


Compiled by Paula Ford-Martin, MA. Paula is the author of The Everything Guide to Managing Type 2 Diabetes

Reviewed by Nora Saul, MS, RD, LDN, CDE on January 17, 2015
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