Insulin therapy is one of the most common methods of treating diabetes. One of the oldest and most common hormones in organisms, insulin is not produced (or produced in small amounts) by those with Type 1 diabetes. In those cases, diabetics must inject the hormone subcutaneously using insulin syringes. Even those with Type 2 diabetes might need the hormone, since less aggressive treatments might fail to regulate glucose levels in the blood.
In the early days of insulin therapy, the hormone was extracted primarily from the pancreases of cows, horses, fish or pigs. Since the hormone has changed little over time, these sources provided a viable source for most patients. As extracting processes improved, these sources became more and more effective for treatment, although allergic reactions to these still occur. Eventually, biomedical firms like Eli Lily perfected synthetic human insulin, which has virtually no allergic reactions in patients. Today, this is the most commonly used form of insulin.
According to most health news, controlling a diabetic condition using insulin syringes is very complicated, primarily because glucose levels shift so much throughout the day. Many individual factors can affect glucose levels, and those levels determine the amount of supplementary insulin needed. Diet, exercise, time of day, correct delivery, illness and the dangers of a possible overdose all factor into estimating or determining the correct dose.
Since insulin cannot currently be taken orally (it does not remain viable after passing through the digestive tract), those using insulin must take it intravenously. Several companies produced insulin that could be inhaled, but this usually had to be supplemented by intravenous insulin. Patients take a combination of short-acting and long-acting insulin at various times during the day as determined by their doctor. Insulin syringes are available at any pharmacy, although their sale has become carefully regulated. Over the last few decades, increased use of illegal intravenous drugs makes insulin syringes valuable, so users must produce doctor’s approval for their purchase.
In some circles, insulin has been abused for its effects, especially in bodybuilding. Since insulin can grow muscle cells without contributing to the growth of fat cells, many bodybuilders will inject small amounts before large meals. In these small amounts, insulin has few adverse side effects, but when used in larger amounts or over long periods of time, it can create a dependence on injected insulin, coma or even death.