Insulin for People with Type 2 Diabetes


Insulin is a hormone produced by your pancreas. Often referred to as the “most powerful” hormone in the human body, we all need insulin to live. Without enough insulin, your body cannot use the sugar (glucose) in your bloodstream for fuel. Without enough insulin, the amount of sugar in your bloodstream can rise to above-normal levels that threaten your short-term and long-term health.

In people with type 2 diabetes, your body is struggling with two things that can lead to high blood sugar levels:

  • Insulin resistance: This is when your body isn’t responding to normal amounts of insulin and isn’t able to use that insulin effectively to manage your blood sugar levels. Some insulin resistance can be improved through lifestyle changes (like physical activity and weight loss). For some people, insulin resistance is a deeper issue that cannot always be easily changed. This means you may need support from diabetes medications or insulin to help you manage healthy blood sugar levels.
  • Beta-cell dysfunction: This is when your body struggles to produce normal amounts of insulin. Beta-cells are produced by the pancreas, then those cells produce insulin. In many people with type 2 diabetes, your body struggles to produce normally functioning beta-cells which means you don’t produce enough insulin. This can worsen over time, and your body is able to produce less and less insulin over time. This means you’ll need more support from diabetes medications or insulin to help you manage healthy blood sugar levels.

After being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, your doctor will likely prescribe the oral medication metformin first. You’ll also be encouraged to make changes in your food and exercise habits. However, because many people with type 2 diabetes experience gradual beta-cell dysfunction, insulin may eventually be the best medication to help you manage safe and healthy blood sugar levels.

It’s okay if you need insulin!

There is a great deal of shame and guilt that can come with needing insulin as a person with type 2 diabetes. It’s important to note that starting insulin is never the fault of the person with diabetes and that this treatment is to help improve or maintain a high quality of life. Beginning an insulin regimen to manage or improve your blood sugar levels does not mean you have “failed” at diabetes management.

It simply means your body needs insulin to help you manage healthy blood sugar levels.

Today, there are so many types of support and technology to help you live well with diabetes, including long-acting and rapid-acting insulin, inhaled insulin, continuous glucose monitors that check your blood sugar without daily finger pricks, smart insulin pens and insulin pumps!

Check out the resources below to learn more about insulin and how it’s used to manage type 2 diabetes.

Insulin Resources for Type 2 Diabetes Management:

The Type 2 Diabetes Guide to Bolus Insulin

Bolus insulin can help prevent glucose spikes after meals or correct for high blood sugar. Learn more in our guide to manage T2D.LEARN MORE

How to Calculate Insulin Dosing for Meals

Taking insulin before meals? Learn how to calculate how much you need before eating using these easy tips. LEARN MORE

The Type 2 Diabetes Guide to Basal Insulin

Basal insulin works like a base regardless of the food that is consumed and helps regulate blood sugars. Learn more in our guide to manage T2D.LEARN MORE

The Type 2 Guide to Insulin

Understanding the body's relationship with insulin is a crucial part of diabetes education.LEARN MORE

How Insulin Works

Insulin is a hormone that helps regulate your glucose levels. But it has other functions to help maintain your health. Read how insulin works. LEARN MORE

Do I Need Insulin?

Did you know that the amount of insulin produced by your pancreas is limited? When should you begin using insulin as part of your treatment? Find some good advice and orientation here. LEARN MORE

Ask a CDCES: Why Should I Change My Insulin Injection Sites?

Why should you change your insulin injection sites? Get your answer in our Ask a Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (DCES) column!LEARN MORE

MDI vs Insulin Pumps in Type 2 Diabetes

People with type 2 diabetes have a choice in the treatment of their condition, and understanding any and all options is a vital first step in proper diabetes management.LEARN MORE

Making the Switch: From Oral Medications to Insulin

People with type 2 diabetes have a choice in the treatment of their condition, and truly understanding available treatment options is extremely pertinent.LEARN MORE

Insulin Delivery Methods

Today, there are a variety of insulin delivery methods to choose from as a person with Type 2 diabetes. Learn about your options here!LEARN MORE


Additional Resources and Stories

I Accidentally Took 18 Units of the Wrong Insulin

Jean Flunker shares how she accidentally took the wrong insulin and her thoughts on insulin stigma in Type 2 diabetes. LEARN MORE

No Shame in Using Insulin

Insulin stigma in T2D care is real and causes people with type 2 to feel like they're failing at managing it. Joseph Martin shares why that doesn't have to be the case. LEARN MORE

“My doctor refused to put me on insulin for Type 2 diabetes, so I got a new doctor.”

Before Kate Cornell was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2005 at 50 years old, she had no idea anything was wrong. Today, she uses both metformin and insulin to manage her blood sugars.LEARN MORE

Common Misconceptions About Type 2 Diabetes

There are many things people get wrong about type 2 diabetes. Here are 10 misconceptions about diabetes. LEARN MORE

Educational content related to insulin use and insulin logging methods for Type 2 diabetes is made possible with support from Lilly Diabetes.