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Insulin is a hormone produced by special cells called beta cells. (A hormone is a chemical made by a gland in the body. Hormones help your body do specific jobs.)
Beta cells are located in your pancreas. When you eat, the beta cells release insulin to help your body use or store the glucose (a form of sugar) in food.
If you have type 1 diabetes, your beta cells do not produce insulin. You need insulin shots to help your body use glucose for energy. Insulin must be injected into your body's fat either by a syringe (used to give shots) or using an insulin pump. Insulin cannot be taken in a pill form because it would be broken down during digestion and unable to work.
You may also need insulin if you have type 2 diabetes. Although your body makes insulin in type 2 diabetes, it may need help.
If you need insulin, your health care provider will determine the type and doses needed by considering the following:
- Onset - how fast the insulin starts to work
- Peak - how long it takes the insulin to work its hardest in lowering blood glucose
- Duration - how long the insulin lasts