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Helping Your Loved One Stick With Mealtime Insulin Therapy PA

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In the United States, more than 30 million people have diabetes. People living with type 2 diabetes are unable to effectively use insulin, a naturally occurring hormone, to lower blood glucose (sugar) levels. Left unchecked, high blood sugar can have serious, life-changing consequences. If you have a loved one with type 2 diabetes, you may already be familiar with their medication regimen.

But what if your loved one’s doctor switches their medication to mealtime insulin therapy? Doctors prescribe mealtime insulin to diabetic patients to help control blood sugar spikes immediately following a meal. Mealtime insulins, like Humalog (insulin lispro), work quickly, but the effects only last for two to three hours. Humalog is used to treat people with diabetes for the control of high blood sugar. That’s why continuing to take mealtime insulin is so important.

It can be challenging for your loved one to stick to their new treatment schedule. And missing doses can be harmful to a diabetic patient’s health. Fortunately, it’s easy to help your loved one commit to their mealtime insulin therapy and help them stay as healthy as possible.

First, Educate Yourself

Diabetic patients have problems producing or using insulin. Insulin controls blood glucose levels by helping cells absorb glucose for energy. Without insulin, the glucose just sits in your bloodstream, which can lead to many problems.

For many people, diabetes can be managed by making lifestyle changes, like following a healthier diet, along with taking oral or non-insulin injectable medications that help the body use insulin more effectively. But for some diabetic patients, these medications alone aren’t enough to lower blood glucose levels. When this occurs, doctors prescribe injectable insulin. In many cases, patients take one or two background (basal) insulin injections, which is enough to control blood glucose levels all day. But some diabetic patients also need mealtime insulin to help keep blood sugar levels balanced after eating.

Mealtime, or rapid-acting, insulin can be used with background insulin or with non-insulin medications. Because it’s so fast acting, mealtime insulin works well even if your loved one’s eating schedule isn’t consistent. But mealtime insulin must be taken immediately before eating—which means it’s possible to have an extra two to five injections every day. This can make it difficult for diabetics to stick to their treatment schedule.

Next, Set Reminders

Fortunately, you can help your loved one adhere to their new treatment plan in a variety of ways. Even if you don’t live with the diabetic patient, you can use online or smartphone apps to help remind you and your loved one when it’s time for a dose. When your phone reminder goes off, you can follow up by sending a quick text message to your loved one reminding them it’s time to take their mealtime insulin.

It’s also helpful to create a viewable calendar that can be used to visually track mealtime insulin doses. Marking out days of the week and mealtimes helps your loved one see when they should check their blood sugar and take a dose of insulin. It can be helpful to use a whiteboard or poster paper and different colored markers to note when meals are eaten, when blood sugar is checked, and when the mealtime insulin dose is given.

Then, Ask for Professional Help

Your loved one’s doctor can also help to keep their mealtime insulin regimen on track. Ask the doctor to write out detailed directions for taking mealtime insulin and be sure your loved one  has a complete understanding of the instructions. If you use a whiteboard to track mealtime insulin, put the instructions right beside it where they’re easily viewable. And if your loved one seems to have trouble understanding the directions, or has questions about their new medication, have their concerns addressed by a healthcare professional immediately. The more they know about their mealtime insulin and why it’s important, the more likely they are to stick to their treatment schedule.

Switching to a mealtime insulin regimen can be challenging for many people, but you can help your loved one be successful with their new treatment. It takes educating yourself and being willing to participate in their daily medication routine to help the treatment stick. And if your friend or family member needs a little extra help, their doctor can provide additional education and encouragement.

PP-HI-US-1195  02/2019 ©Lilly USA, LLC 2019. All rights reserved.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2018 Jul 6
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THIS CONTENT DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. This content is provided for informational purposes and reflects the opinions of the author. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare professional regarding your health. If you think you may have a medical emergency, contact your doctor immediately or call 911.
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  2. What is Diabetes? National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/what-is-diabetes
  3. Help Patients Remember How and When to Take Their Medicine: Tool #16. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. https://www.ahrq.gov/professionals/quality-patient-safety/quality-resources/tools/literacy-toolkit/healthlittoolkit2-tool16.html
  4. Mealtime Insulin. Endocrine Society. https://www.hormone.org/diseases-and-conditions/diabetes/medicines-and-treatment/mealtime-insulin