Insulin for Gestational Diabetes
Insulin normally is made by the pancreas, a gland behind the stomach. The medicine form of insulin helps the body use glucose. Insulin cannot be taken as a pill, because stomach acid destroys insulin before it can enter the blood.
Insulin is categorized according to how fast it starts to work and how long it continues to work. The types of insulin available include rapid-, short-, intermediate-, and long-acting insulin. See types of insulin for more information. Insulin strength is usually U-100, but U-500 is also available, which is five times more concentrated than U-100. If you are very resistant to insulin, U-500 allows you to inject fewer units but get more of the medicine.
Insulin is packaged in small glass bottles that are sealed with rubber lids. One bottle of U-100 insulin holds 1,000 units, which is many doses of insulin. It is also packaged in small cartridges used in pen-shaped devices (insulin pens) attached to disposable needles. Insulin bottles and cartridges are labeled with important information you should read, such as the expiration date.
How insulin is taken
Insulin usually is given as a shot under the skin. It can also be given through an insulin pump or a jet injector, a device that sprays the medicine into the skin. Some insulins can be given in a vein, but this is only done in a hospital.
How It Works
Insulin reduces blood sugar levels by helping sugar (glucose) enter the cells to be used for energy. Sometimes women who have gestational diabetes need to take two types of insulin, usually a rapid- or short-acting and an intermediate-acting type. Long-acting insulins have not proved to be safe for use during pregnancy.
Why It Is Used
You will need to take insulin if changing the way you eat and getting regular exercise do not keep your blood sugar in a target range. Keeping your blood sugar in a target range is the best way to prevent problems from gestational diabetes, such as a baby who grows too large or a baby who is born with low blood sugar. Usually, gestational diabetes goes away after your baby is born. Then you no longer need insulin.
People who have type 1 diabetes and some people who have type 2 diabetes also need to take insulin. For information on insulin for these types of diabetes, see the topics Type 1 Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes.
How Well It Works
Insulin is effective in reducing blood sugar levels by helping sugar (glucose) enter the cells to be used for energy.
All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.
Here are some important things to think about:
Call your doctor if:
Common side effects of this medicine include:
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
What you need to know
Insulin will work faster if:
To learn how to prepare and give insulin injections, see:
Things to check
A bottle of insulin may not work well after 30 days. Label each insulin bottle the first time you use it. Then after 30 days, throw away any insulin you did not use from that bottle.
Always check the expiration date on the bottle.
Insulin should be stored properly. If it is not, it may break down and not work very well.
Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.
There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
To learn more visit Healthwise.org