The treatment of type 1 diabetes

The treatment of type 1 diabetes, in contrast to the treatment of type 2 diabetes, mainly consists of maintaining a healthy insulin level with the help of an adapted diet and by administering insulin to oneself. In people with type 1 diabetes, the body no longer produces virtually any insulin.

The treatment of type 1 diabetes

In the treatment of diabetes type, blood glucose is regulated through diet and the use of insulin. In type 1 diabetes, the body no longer produces virtually any insulin. Even if you pay close attention to your diet, glucose levels will always rise slightly after eating. To get this back to the right level you have to administer insulin. This is usually done through a number of insulin injections per day.

Power supply

Our diet contains many carbohydrates. These are digested in the intestine into glucose. That is why you must ensure that the amount of glucose and carbohydrates in your body remains in balance. For many people this takes a lot of effort and it certainly takes some getting used to in the beginning. However, you will automatically gain insight into which products have which effect on your body and mind.

Treatment with insulin

The amount of insulin is usually indicated in grams or milligrams. The amount of insulin is expressed in ‘international units’. The insulin must be stored cool, but frost-free. For example, the insulin can be stored in the refrigerator. Insulin must be protected from direct sunlight.

Adjusting the insulin

The wave movement is slightly different for everyone. It is important to imitate this wave movement as precisely as possible for optimal treatment results. Consider things like:

  • The amount of injections per day
  • The time of administration of the injections
  • What type of insulin is used
  • How much insulin is administered


Different types of insulin

There are three different types of insulin. These are divided into short-acting insulin, intermediate-acting insulin and long-acting insulin. The difference between these types is that they are not absorbed into the blood as quickly and are not broken down as quickly. Short-acting insulin is easier to adjust than long-acting insulin. There are also premixed insulin forms.
Short-acting insulin:

  • Humalog
  • Novorapid
  • Velosulin
  • Actrapid
  • Humulin Regular
  • Insulin Insufat
  • Pen mix (premixed)
  • Insuman Rapid

Long-acting insulin:

  • Lantus
  • Monotard (premixed)
  • Ultratard


Administering insulin

Insulin is mainly administered by people with type 1 diabetes. Insulin can be administered to the body in several ways, but insulin cannot be taken in one tablet. Most people administer their insulin using the insulin pen.


Our pancreas continuously releases insulin. However, when one has eaten, the pancreas will secrete more insulin. The main task of insulin is to keep blood glucose levels within limits.

Inject insulin

Insulin can only be administered by injection. Until a few years ago, most people did this using a syringe. However, this turned out to be inconvenient to use, which is why most people nowadays use the insulin pen. This device is very similar to an ordinary fountain pen. However, instead of a writing point, the insulin pen has a needle as a point, and insulin ampoules instead of ink cartridges. This ampoule is usually called a cartridge or penfill. The insulin injection is
administered just under the skin . In principle, the insulin can be injected anywhere in the skin where there is a fat layer and where there are no large blood vessels, nerves, muscles and bones just under the skin. The insulin then gradually enters the blood. The insulin is also broken down by the body over time. Therefore, several injections per day are necessary.

Choice of different insulin pens

There are various types of insulin pens. In general, insulin pens are brand specific, so you cannot just use someone else’s insulin pen.
Most insulin pens can be used several times, but some are so-called disposable pens. The pens also differ in setting the amount of insulin. There are also insulin pens without a needle. You can use this if you are very afraid of needles. With these types of insulin pens, the insulin is injected into the pores with a very powerful local pump.
Insulin needles are also available in different sizes. The correct size depends, among other things, on the injection site, the injection technique and the thickness of your subcutaneous tissue.

How do you use an insulin pen?

  1. Wash your hands
  2. If the insulin is cloudy, do not shake it but gently turn the pen about 20 times. When the insulin is clear, it is ready to use
  3. Place the needle on the pen
  4. Remove the cap from the needle and inject one to two units of insulin to remove the air in the needle
  5. Set the correct amount of insulin
  6. Insert the needle under the skin, approximately to the plastic end (or needle shortener)
  7. Hold the pen firmly and press the insulin pen button with your thumb
  8. Hold the needle in this position for about 10 seconds so that no insulin can drip from the needle
  9. Pull the needle out of the skin
  10. Remove the needle immediately after use

If the insulin is at room temperature, you relax the muscles where you are going to inject and you quickly insert the needle into the skin and do not change direction, you can limit the pain somewhat.
Where you insert the needle into the skin depends, among other things, on the type of insulin. Always inject the insulin into the same part of the body at the same time .

  • Short-acting insulin is best injected into the abdomen (but not in a 5 centimeter circle around the navel) or upper arm
  • It is best to inject medium and long-acting insulin into the buttock or thigh
  • Premixed insulin is best injected into a different part of the body each time. For example, choose two places and alternate between them in the morning and evening

You can hand in used needles at the pharmacy. Insulin pens are available from diabetes nurse, GP or pharmacy, among others .

The insulin pump

An alternative to insulin injections is the insulin pump. This pump is very suitable for people who have difficulty setting the right amount of insulin or who forget to give the injections. With the insulin pump, insulin can be regulated very accurately. The insulin pump contains a built-in injection needle. For example, during a meal you can administer an extra dose of insulin, this is called a bolus.
The insulin pump can be requested from your doctor or diabetes nurse. However, not everyone is eligible for an insulin pump.

Advantages of insulin pump

  • The insulin can be administered more precisely
  • The amount of insulin can be easily changed
  • You no longer need to inject
  • At night, insulin is also provided


Disadvantages of insulin pump

  • Blood glucose should be tested more regularly
  • The insulin pump can break (unnoticed).
  • An allergic reaction may occur


Side effects of insulin

Like almost all other medications, insulin can have side effects. These can be mild or more severe. The side effects should always be taken seriously. Most side effects are temporary and/or treatable.


A hypo is a state in which the blood glucose is too low. Insulin lowers your blood glucose, which can sometimes cause a hypo. A hypo is not actually a side effect, but an excessive effect of the insulin.


With lipoatrophy, the fat layer under the skin becomes thinner. This mainly occurs in the places in the skin where you administer the insulin. Lipoatrophy can occur when you use insulin for a long time and often administer the insulin to the same places. You can prevent this by not always administering your insulin in exactly the same place.


With lipohypertrophy, the skin becomes thicker at the sites where insulin is administered. This is because scar tissue forms under the skin. Injecting insulin in these places can be difficult due to the thicker skin. The insulin is also no longer gradually released into the blood, which can cause fluctuations in the blood glucose level.

Insulin allergy

Some people have an allergic reaction to insulin. The skin may become red, swell, itch and hurt. Sometimes the symptoms disappear when you switch to a different type of insulin, or else when the amount of insulin is slowly increased. Very rarely you need to be treated with antihistamines.

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