Type 2 diabetes affects a large number of people all over the United States. There are 29.1 million people in the United States who have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. And 1.4 million of them are diagnosed each year.
Treating type 2 diabetes isn’t a one-step approach. Lifestyle changes and physical activity can help people with diabetes manage their blood sugar levels. Also, medications like basal insulin therapy can help improve quality of life. It can also help people with diabetes avoid long-term complications.
Find out what basal insulin is and why your body needs it to have a healthy blood sugar level.
What is basal insulin?
Basal insulin is also called “background” insulin. The name describes the insulin released throughout the day to provide 24-hour coverage. Insulin allows glucose to go from the blood into the cells to use as energy.
Basal insulin also helps the body store fats and sugar for use between meals and overnight. It differs from “bolus” insulin, which is released in response to meals.
People with type 1 and type 2 diabetes may have a problem making enough or any insulin. The liver pumps out glucose throughout the day. And a lack of basal insulin elevates blood sugar levels. This happens even during fasting periods like overnight.
Basal insulin as part of diabetes management
Diabetes management uses basal insulin therapy as part of the physiological approach to managing blood sugar levels. Most endocrinologists prescribe long-term or intermediate acting insulin to mimic the action of basal insulin. This insulin is used together with a short- or rapid-acting insulin. Many patients find it daunting and painful to take four injections every day.
A single injection of long-term insulin is now preferred for people with type 2 diabetes. It is used with oral diabetes medications or other types of diabetes medications.
Proper dosage of basal insulin therapy should help maintain target glucose levels and prevent complications. The benefits of long-term insulin therapy are that it causes less weight gain than other insulin therapies. And it has a lower risk of low blood sugar since it does not peak. Giving the injection at night can help avoid high blood sugar levels when waking.
If you’re taking long-term insulin for basal insulin therapy, continue your oral diabetes medications at the same dose. Your doctor will adjust the dose of the long-term insulin based on your fasting blood sugar levels.
The benefits of basal insulin
Long-acting basal insulin can help prevent the onset of other complications linked with diabetes. It also mimics the body’s production of insulin and helps keep blood sugar stable overnight and between meals. These are the times when the liver is producing and releasing sugar for the body to use for energy.
People who have diabetes are at risk of developing micro- and macrovascular complications. Microvascular diseases include retinopathy, neuropathy, and nephropathy. Macrovascular complications include stroke and coronary heart diseases. These conditions can also cause major disability in people with diabetes.
Oxidative stress and other damage caused by high glucose levels in the blood can cause cellular injury. This is what causes these diseases. If you have diabetes, having a high blood sugar level stimulates the production of free radicals. Other byproducts can also lead to cellular damage.
Researchers have found that patients with type 2 diabetes who are taking basal insulin therapy have shown a 25 percent reduction in the progression of microvascular complications.
Mimics normal insulin secretion
The pancreas is the organ of the body that produces insulin. People with diabetes have low to no insulin production. Basal insulin therapy mimics the normal pattern of insulin secretion throughout the day. And also along with mealtime coverage, as needed, with either oral medications or insulin. This combination can help achieve good blood sugar control.
Small amounts of insulin are released throughout the day to help stabilize blood sugar levels between meals and overnight. Larger amounts of “bolus” insulin are released to cover mealtimes.
Adequate basal insulin is important for the regulation of glucose throughout the day. The liver controls glucose production. It’s affected by the changes in insulin levels. While ingesting food, insulin stimulates the body’s cells to uptake glucose. It also stops the endogenous production of it and maintains a normal range of blood glucose level.
Provides large portion of daily insulin requirements
The basal insulin pattern of each individual is unique. Body size, hormone levels, activity levels, stage of growth, and amount of internal insulin produced by the pancreas are factors that are looked at.
Basal insulin tends to be high for a few hours every morning. This is due to the release of certain hormones. Taking long-term insulin at night can help to manage morning blood sugar levels.
There are many reasons why basal insulin is important. Without basal insulin, glucose that the liver produces to provide energy throughout the day will cause high blood sugar levels. Also, without basal insulin, glucose goes into the cells and causes high blood sugar levels. This causes by both short-term and long-term complications.