Insulin is a naturally occurring hormone secreted by the beta cells inside the pancreas. Your body uses insulin to move the sugar (glucose) obtained from food from the bloodstream into cells throughout the body. The cells are then able to use the sugar for energy1.

When you have diabetes you either don't make enough insulin or the insulin that you do make is not used as effectively as it should. In cases where not enough insulin is made by your body to meet your needs, several types of insulin products are available that allow you to replace the insulin your pancreas doesn't make.

Because insulin is a protein, it cannot be taken by mouth. Like any protein, the insulin would be digested by the acid in the stomach, just like the food you eat. That's why insulin is taken by injection.


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Diabetes is a disease that changes over time. Your diabetes treatment may also need to change to keep your blood sugar (glucose) level in the target range recommended by your healthcare provider.

Insulin is prescribed to people with type 1 diabetes. This is because type1 diabetes destroys beta cells in the pancreas, meaning that the body can no longer produce insulin.

Early in the treatment of type 2 diabetes, pills may be prescribed to help manage your blood sugar. But over time, the pills may not continue to work as well and you may need to start insulin. Having to change your treatment doesn't mean that you've failed or done anything wrong. It means that your healthcare provider is helping you manage your blood sugar.

Diabetes pills sometimes stop working after a few months or years. The cause is often unknown. This doesn't mean your diabetes is worse. When this happens, oral combination therapy can help.

Even if diabetes pills do bring your blood glucose levels near the normal range, you may still need to take insulin if you have a severe infection or need surgery. Pills may not be able to control blood glucose levels during these stressful times when blood glucose levels shoot up.

Also, if you plan to become pregnant, you will need to control your diabetes with diet and exercise or with insulin. It is not safe for pregnant women to take oral diabetes medications.

There is no "best" pill or treatment for type 2 diabetes. You may need to try more than one type of pill, combination of pills, or pills plus insulin.1