Who Needs Insulin?

Do People with Type 2 Diabetes Need Insulin?

Everyone with type 1 diabetes must take insulin, and some people with type 2 diabetes may need to take insulin to help control their blood glucose levels. To understand who many need to take insulin, you need a quick background on insulin production in the body and how it's affected by diabetes.

Insulin Production in Type 1 Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes
The difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes is the amount of insulin produced.

People with type 1 diabetes have little or no production insulin production; most people do not have the ability to produce insulin. That is because their beta cells, which are in charge of insulin production, have been destroyed and can no longer make insulin.

In type 2 diabetes, however, the body either doesn't make enough insulin, or it can't use it effectively. Not being able to use insulin effectively is called insulin resistance.

What Does Insulin Do?
Insulin is important to control the glucose levels in the blood; it helps transport the glucose from the blood into the tissues that need it. In fact, you can think of it this way: insulin is the key that unlocks the muscles and other tissues to let the glucose in.

Without insulin, the body can't properly use glucose, which is how we get energy.

Who Will Need to Take Insulin?
As previously mentioned, everyone with type 1 diabetes will need to take insulin. Their bodies must have insulin injected in order to use the glucose that's created when their bodies break down the food they eat.

Not everyone with type 2 diabetes will need insulin. Some people will be able to manage their blood glucose levels with diet, exercise, and medications. However, some people will need insulin—and here's a key point to remember: just because you need insulin to manage your type 2 diabetes, that doesn't mean you've "failed" at managing it.

There is that common misconception, and we're here to tell you: insulin is simply another tool in the diabetes toolkit to help you live well with type 2 diabetes.

Your doctor and diabetes treatment team will talk through your treatment options and help you work through what will be best for you. If you need to take insulin in order to better manage your day-to-day blood glucose level—and work to avoid long-term complications of diabetes—then they will fully explain to you why they're recommending it and how it will work.

Insulin for Diabetes: It's Needed
Despite new medication, insulin is still critical to everyone living with type 1 diabetes, as well as millions living with type 2 diabetes. It is vital for daily blood glucose control and long-term health.

Updated on: November 13, 2012