The Effects of Insulin on the Body

Insulin effect

Insulin is a hormone made by your pancreas that controls how your body uses and stores glucose (glucose). Like a key that grants glucose to enter cells.

Insulin is an essential component of digestion and other metabolisms. Without it, your body would stop working. So insulin effects are important for the body.

At the point when one eats, the pancreas releases insulin to allow the entry of glucose into your cells.

In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas does not insulin. In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas produces insulin, but the cells of one’s body can’t make use of it. This is because the cells are resistant to the effects of insulin, hence the term insulin resistance.

If a person is deficient in insulin, the pancreas does not meet the demands of the body, or the body is resistant to the effects of insulin, glucose will not enter the cells.

This will be reflected by high blood levels of glucose. The cells will be starving and the body will become weak as the metabolic processes will slow down.

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In people totally deficient in insulin, the body will adopt alternate metabolic pathways and start utilizing fats. This will result in ketone formation which is acidic.

A slight change in the body’s PH will slow or stop the metabolic processes and the person may quickly become very serious and may die.

In people who have long-standing high blood levels of glucose, the glucose binds to different proteins, producing glycated end-products.

These glycated end-products ultimately damage the kidneys, liver, eyes, heart, blood vessels, and any organ of the body.

Individuals suffering from diabetes type one need insulin treatment to live a healthy life. Certain individuals with type two diabetes should likewise need insulin treatment to control their glucose levels and keep away from complications of diabetes.

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Types of insulin

There are different types of insulin formulations available used to treat diabetes:

  • Rapid-acting insulin:

Rapid-acting insulin with an onset of action of around 15 minutes and continues to work for as long as 4 hours.

  • Short-acting Insulin:

The short-acting insulin effect starts in about half an hour and works for as long as 6 hours.

  • Intermediate-acting Insulin:

It acts within two to four hours and is effective for around eighteen hours.

  • Long-acting Insulin:

Long-acting insulin such as Degludec and Glargine work within two-three hours and keeps sugar levels normal, for around one day.

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Sites for injecting insulin

Insulin is typically injected into the abdominal region, yet it can likewise be infused into the buttocks, upper area of arms, or thigh region.

It is best to change the site of insulin administration so as to avoid fat deposition at the site. This is called lipo-hypertrophy.

Continuous infusions in a similar spot can cause fatty deposits that make the delivery of insulin more troublesome.

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Effects of Insulin:

Insulin is an anabolic hormone that is involved in the uptake of glucose into the cells. It also enhances the uptake of glucose by the liver cells and other body cells.

Effects of Insulin on energy production and distribution

Insulin can assist with the uptake of glucose into different parts and organs of the body including the central nervous system and cardiovascular systems.

Without it, the cells are deprived of energy resulting in the impairment of vital organ function.

Liver storage

Insulin helps one’s liver take extra sugar from the circulation system. The liver stores blood sugar one doesn’t require immediately so it is utilized for use later.

Glycogen is the storage form of glucose that is used to release glucose at times of stress and starvation.

It holds one’s blood sugar levels in check and allows the delivery of glucose in amounts required by the body.

Storage in fats and muscle tissues

It helps your cells of muscles and fat by taking care of extra glucose. It keeps glucose stored as glycogen which is then released when blood glucose drops.

Exactly when one’s liver can take no extra amount of glycogen, it sets off its fat cells to take in glucose. It’s put away as TAGs, a sort of lipid in your bloodstream, that can be used for the generation of power later.

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Low glucose range

It helps keep the sugar in your bloodstream inside a normal reach. It does this by eliminating sugar from your circulation and moving it into cells generally through your body.

The tissues then use the sugar for the production of energy and store the overflow in your liver, muscles, and fat tissue.

It maintains blood glucose very tightly unlike exogenous manmade insulin including insulin pumps where glucose spikes are common.

Insulin effects on Healthy cells:

Tissues in all aspects of one’s body require the energy to work and stay normal and sound. It gives the sugar that cells use for power generation. Without it, the sugars stay in one’s circulation system, which can cause risky complexities like hyperglycemia.

Alongside sugar, insulin assists basic protein building blocks, amino acids, with entering the body’s cells, which form muscles. In addition, it assists cells with taking in salts like potassium, which maintains one’s natural liquid amount.

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Effects of insulin on the Circulatory system

At the point when insulin enters your circulatory system, insulin helps all the body’s cells to utilize insulin well. In addition, it also causes the secretion of Nitric oxide from the endothelium, resulting in vasodilation of the vessels. [Ref]

As the pancreas delivers sufficient amounts of insulin and your body can utilize it appropriately, sugar concentration will be kept inside a sound range.

When the blood glucose is elevated, it results in the formation of glycated end products which directly harm the blood vessels (endothelium) and the myocardium of the heart.

It also causes neuritis and neuropathies which may manifest as tingling and numbness of the hands and feet.

Blood vessels of the eyes are very delicate and are commonly affected in patients with long-standing diabetes.

Similarly, the blood vessels of the kidneys are also affected very early in the course of the illness resulting in swelling of the feet and eyes.

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Ketone control

Ketone bodies are formed when the cells, during periods of starvation or insulin deficiency, start to utilize fat as fuel.

Ketones in excess can alter body PH which hampers body metabolism. This is associated with severe shortness of breath, nausea, abdominal pain, and drowsiness.

This is an acute emergency called Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). Untreated DKA can result in the rapid death of the person. It is important to monitor blood glucose and ketones in times of stress and in people who have Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus.

Side effects of Insulin:

Insulin is the safest medicine. However, an overdose can result in serious hypoglycemia. Similarly, repeated injections at one site can cause the deposition of fat in the skin.

Other side effects include:

The more normal incidental effects that happen with insulin regular (human) include:

  • Weight gain
  • Low glucose (hypoglycemia). Symptoms can include:
    • Sweating and Perspiration
    • Unsteadiness
    • Shakiness
    • Hunger
    • Quick pulse
    • Shivering on your feet, lips, or tongue
    • Inconvenience in concentrating
    • Confusion
    • Unclear vision
    • Slurred talk
    • Uneasiness,
    • Mood swings
  • Infusion site reactions

Try not to infuse insulin into the skin that is red, enlarged, or itchy. Side effects at the infusion site can include:

  • Redness
  • Inflammation
  • Tingling

Repeated insulin injections at the site may result in fat deposition called lipo-hypertrophy. Change the site of injection on your skin to reduce the possibility of fatty deposition.

If you develop insulin-associated skin changes, don’t inject insulin into the site. Side effects can include:

  • Contracting or thickening skin at the infusion sites

If these impacts are mild, they might disappear within a couple of days or two or three weeks. On the off chance that they’re more serious or don’t disappear, converse with your primary care physician or endocrinologist.

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Serious side effects

One of the serious side effects of insulin is hypoglycemia. This is rather an effect of insulin overdose and not a side effect per se.

However, if your blood glucose goes down to less than 70 mg/dl, you should immediately take sugar, juice, or whatever is available.

In case you develop symptoms of low blood glucose such as drowsiness and irritability, you need to call the emergency number.

Symptoms of low glucose include:

  • Mood swings, like irritability, anger, headache, aversion, phobias, and irrelevant talking.
  • Confusion, including dizziness
  • Unsteadiness and ataxia
  • Blurring of vision
  • Shivering in your lips or tongue
  • Headaches and attacks of migraine
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Absence of coordination
  • Bad dreams or shouting out during your rest
  • Seizures
  • Loss of coordination

Symptoms of Low blood potassium (hypokalemia) as a result of insulin overdose include:

  • Constipation
  • Tiredness
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle cramps
  • Weakness
  • Increased urinary frequency
  • Tingling and numbness
  • Breathing issues (when weakness progresses to involve the respiratory muscles)
  • Heart rhythm issues (in cases of severe hypokalemia)

Serious allergic reactions may manifest as:

  • A rash all around your body
  • Trouble in breathing
  • Quick pulse
  • Perspiring
  • Feeling faint
  • Inflammation of your hands and feet

Cardiovascular side effects may include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Inflammation of your lower legs or feet
  • Abrupt weight gain as a result of fluid overload.
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Insulin interactions with other medications:

Insulin can have positive or negative effects on different medications. It is therefore important to inform your healthcare professional about all your medications and supplements including over-the-counter medications.

Insulin Interactions with other Diabetes Medications:

Taking thiazolidinediones with insulin may cause the retention of fluids and exacerbate the symptoms of heart failure. These drugs include:

  • Rosiglitazone
  • Pioglitazone

Taking pramlintide, sulfonylureas (glimepiride, gliclazide), repaglinide, Ozempic, and any other diabetes medication with insulin can result in hypoglycemia.

Insulin and Antidepressants:

Certain antidepressant drugs when given in combination with insulin can markedly lower blood glucose. These include:

  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)

Insulin and Blood Pressure-lowering medications:

Taking these drugs used for high blood pressure with regular insulin (human) may cause exceptionally low glucose. Instances of these medications include:

  • propranolol
  • metoprolol
  • enalapril
  • captopril
  • losartan
  • valsartan
  • lisinopril

On the other hand, taking diuretics (water pills) with regular insulin (human) may cause high glucose.

In addition, beta-blockers may result in masking the symptoms of hypoglycemia. The person may develop hypoglycemia but not feel the symptoms unless it’s too late.

Insulin and cardiovascular medicines:

Taking disopyramide with regular insulin (human) may cause extremely low glucose.

Insulin and statins:

Taking specific cholesterol drugs with regular insulin (human) may cause high glucose levels. Instances of these medications include:

  • Niacin

Insulin and Pain Medications:

Taking salicylates, like aspirin, with regular insulin (human) may cause exceptionally low glucose. However, do not stop taking aspirin because of the fear of hypoglycemia. One can reduce the dose of insulin in such cases.

Insulin and somatostatin analogs:

Taking octreotide with regular insulin (human) may cause extremely low glucose (hypoglycemia).

Insulin and blood thinners:

Taking pentoxifylline with regular insulin (human) may cause extremely low glucose.

Insulin and asthma medications:

Taking certain asthma medications with insulin may cause high glucose levels. Instances of these medications include:

  • Sympathomimetic (Albuterol, Formetrol, and Salmeterol)
  • Corticosteroids (prednisolone, dexamethasone)

Insulin and Oral contraceptive pills:

Oral contraceptive pills elevate blood glucose. They may increase end-organ resistance to the effects of insulin. These include:

  • Progesterone-containing OCPs
  • Estrogens-containing OCPs

Antiretroviral medications and Insulin:

Taking protease inhibitors with insulin may cause high glucose levels. Instances of these medications include:

  • Saquinavir
  • Ritonavir

Antipsychotics and Insulin:

Antipsychotics elevate blood glucose and cause weight gain as well. With insulin, these drugs may cause weight to increase rapidly. They may also blunt the effects of insulin.

These drugs include:

  • Phenothiazines
  • Olanzapine
  • Clozapine

Insulin and drugs used to treat tuberculosis:

Isoniazid is one of the first-line ATT drugs that has been associated with high blood glucose. It may blunt the effects of insulin.

Insulin and antibiotics:

Certain antibiotics and antimalarial drugs are especially notorious for causing hypo or hyperglycemia. Antibiotics that impair blood glucose include:

  • Sulfonamide
  • Quinolones (Gatifloxacin, Gemifloxiacin, Moxifloxaxin, Levofloxaxin)
  • Pentamidine
  • Quinine and Chloroquine

In fact, gemifloxacin (Factive) has been discontinued because of severe hypoglycemia associated with its use.

Insulin and hormones:

Ingesting these medications with insulin ordinary (human) may cause high glucose levels. Instances of these medications include:

  • Danazol
  • Glucagon
  • Somatropin
  • Thyroid hormones

Glucagon is an antidote to insulin overdose and hence acts opposite to that insulin. It is the treatment of choice for patients with severe symptomatic hypoglycemia.

Other drugs that may mask the symptoms of hypoglycemia include:

  • Reserpine
  • Clonidine
  • Guanethidine
  • Beta-blockers, for example, propranolol, labetalol, and metoprolol
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Written by Dr. Ahmed

I am Dr. Ahmed (MBBS; FCPS Medicine), an Internist and a practicing physician. I am in the medical field for over fifteen years working in one of the busiest hospitals and writing medical posts for over 5 years.

I love my family, my profession, my blog, nature, hiking, and simple life. Read more about me, my family, and my qualifications

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