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Is insulin a better bet than oral drugs?

MagazineOctober 2001 (Vol. 12 Issue 7)Is insulin a better bet than oral drugs?

"Diabetes pills lower blood glucose levels

"Diabetes pills lower blood glucose levels. They are not insulin. If eating healthier foods, increasing activity and taking such pills do not lower your blood glucose enough, you may need to either add insulin to your regime or use insulin instead of the diabetes pills", says Shawne A. Colin, senior diabetes representative of the American Diabetes Association.

Insulin, like diabetes pills, only alters the symptoms of the disease it does not treat the cause.In too large a dose, it may cause trembling, hunger, weakness and irritability symptoms of low blood sugar that can progress to insulin shock.

All insulins may cause allergies in a few individuals (Diabetes Care, 1991; 14: 423-4; Dukes MNG, Beeley L, Side Effects of Drugs, Annual 14, Amsterdam: Elsevier, 1990). Skin cleansers and preservatives in the insulin can also cause local allergic reactions (Olin BR, ed. Facts and Comparisons, St Louis: JB Lippincott, 1992).

However, the effectiveness of intensive insulin treatment in delaying the onset of diabetes complications has been established for type 1 and, to a lesser extent, type 2 diabetes.

In a randomised trial of 110 patients with type 2 diabetes, those who received multiple insulin injections had a 24 per cent reduction in progression of retinal damage and a 20 per cent reduction of kidney disease after six years compared with a group treated with conventional therapy (Diabetes Res Clin Pract, 1995; 28: 103-17).


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