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Is insulin inevitable? Treating type 2 diabetes in the long term

Most people think of insulin as the main – or only – treatment for diabetes, but this is a misconception. If you have diabetes, you’ll know that insulin therapy is just one of many ways to manage the disease.

While those with type 1 diabetes usually do need to use insulin regularly, many with type 2 diabetes use a combination of lifestyle changes and other drug treatments, with insulin being seen as a last resort.

However, research shows that the longer patients have type 2 diabetes, the more likely it is that they will need to use insulin. In fact, some doctors now suggest that starting insulin therapy earlier can be beneficial, as it can help patients keep their blood sugar levels more consistent.

Diabetes – the basics

The pancreas is a small gland located behind the stomach. It produces a hormone called insulin, which helps the body absorb and use glucose – or sugar – from food. Diabetes occurs when the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin to regulate blood sugar levels effectively, or when the cells fail to recognise the insulin.

Left untreated, diabetes can lead to a range of serious complications and health issues, including heart disease and stroke. Because it affects the tiny blood vessels that feed the eyes, nerves, and kidneys, it can also lead to problems with these organs.

In New Zealand, type 2 diabetes makes up 90% of cases. Unlike type 1, which is a genetic autoimmune condition, type 2 diabetes is associated with lifestyle issues – for instance, obesity is a major risk factor for developing the disease.

Lifestyle changes and treatment options

When a patient is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, doctors nearly always recommend lifestyle changes: improved diet, more exercise, and weight loss can make a difference, but these changes are gradual. Drugs such as Metformin, which improve the body’s response to insulin, may also be used to help patients manage their blood sugar.

However, because diabetes is a progressive disease, insulin production decreases over time and most patients will eventually need insulin therapy. The body can also build up resistance to other medications, making them less effective.

Quick, reliable, effective

Some patients resist using insulin because they don’t want to deal with injections, or because they feel that they can manage the disease with diet and exercise. But insulin does have its benefits:

  • Unlike diet and exercise, insulin can bring blood glucose down to a reasonable level very quickly.
  • Using insulin regularly can make it easier to keep blood glucose at a consistent level long term, making complications less likely.
  • Insulin treatment can be easier and more reliable over time than lifestyle changes.

If lifestyle changes and alternative drugs are no longer keeping your blood sugar levels stable, insulin might be the best option. Your doctor and treatment team will help you come up with a management plan to help you balance diet, exercise, and insulin dosage.

Insulin made easy

If you rely on insulin to keep your diabetes under control, you must always have the insulin you need on hand. ZOOM Pharmacy makes it easy – ZOOM gets your prescription and they’ll deliver your insulin by courier in a couple of days.

ZOOM sends all insulin orders via cold-chain delivery. This means your insulin is sent in a small chilly bin surrounded by icepacks to ensure it arrives to you at the correct temperature.  ZOOM can make it even easier for you and send your insulin, along with any other regular meds you may be on, all at the same time.

As one customer puts it: “It’s easy to use, it gets delivered, you honestly don’t have to do much …the rest is done for you.”

Even better, ZOOM helps you keep on top of repeats by sending text or email reminders, and will liaise with your GP on your behalf so repeat prescriptions happen seamlessly. Their qualified  pharmacists are also on hand to chat if you have any questions. Simple.

To get started, simply ask your GP or clinic to fax your prescription direct to ZOOM, or FreePost it yourself. Find out more at zoompharmacy.co.nz