Prevalence rates of diabetes mellitus is high in the US, with the condition estimated to afflict more than 10% of the US population. Among the various treatment options in use for the condition, fast acting insulin remains one among the more popular and preferred forms of treatment. All medications come with the possibility of undesirable effects, in addition to the desired outcomes. Following subsections offer a detailed look at one of the branded offerings, including insulin lispro side effects. This is intended to help users identify, prevent and mitigate undesirable effects.

Overview of Insulin lispro

Belonging to the category of rapid acting insulin, and available as a branded formulation (Humalog), Insulin Lispro is effective in treating type 1 and 2 diabetes. The medication works in a manner that is similar to human insulin, that is produced in the pancreas, and brings about glucose metabolism. Typically, insulin is released after a meal, and this facilitates the absorption of glucose from the blood, and this transforms into either stored glycogen or fat.

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body is unable to produce insulin as a result of some auto immune reaction. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the individual ends up with high blood sugar levels due to one of many reasons, and this further develops into a condition wherein the pancreatic islet cells are damaged. Consequently, the patient requires exogenous insulin to lower the blood sugar levels. This is typically administered when other medications fail to deliver the desired outcomes to tackle the condition. Insulin Lispro is available in liquid form and is either injected subcutaneously or by IV infusion.

Commonly reported Insulin Lispro side effects

As mentioned above, all medications come with the possibility of undesirable effects. The type and intensity of effects may differ from person to person. For instance, certain patients may experience mild or moderate effects, while others may experience strong, or adverse effects. Additionally, there may also be patients who may not experience any kind of effects whatsoever. The mild or moderate effects are known to occur frequently and may not actually require medical intervention. These effects are known to resolve naturally and only a few cases may require some kind of intervention, when the effects persist or increase in intensity.

The serious or adverse effects may require medical attention, and these effects are typically not frequently occurring in nature. The effects depend on various conditions, such as the dosage, the frequency or schedule, the intensity of the condition, the age of the patient, gender, overall health condition, existing ailments, and other medications in use for treating existing ailments. Here is a look at commonly occurring effects this is not an exhaustive compilation and it is intended to help patients get a broad picture of the type of effects that may be experienced. This will help in identifying the symptoms associated with the effects, and take suitable remedial measures.

Frequently occurring mild/moderate effects

Swelling may be experienced in the limb extremities, that is, the hands or the feet, while some are known to end up with very low blood sugar levels. Known as hypoglycemia, this needs to be treated, as the purpose of the medication is to regulate blood sugar levels to normal range and not to take it to extremely low levels. Patients are also known to experience a thickening of the skin, or the formation of typical pits at the site of injection. Individuals on the medication are known to end up with an increase in weight. Other effects linked to the medication include itching sensations, and the outbreak of rashes. These effects barring the injection site reactions, are known to last for a maximum of a few weeks, and resolve gradually. However, in the event of any of the conditions persisting or aggravating, it is necessary to seek medical attention.

Effects that are of concern

As outlined above, there is also the possibility of individuals experiencing effects that may require some kind of intervention at the earliest. This includes low blood levels of potassium, allergic reactions and extremely low blood sugar levels. Hypoglycemia is also listed as a mild or moderate effect; however, when it is left untreated or if the level dips too low, then it is regarded as an extremely serious outcome that requires emergency intervention. Some of these effects may turn or develop into other effects that could be very serious in nature. For instance, low blood sugar levels can have an impact on the heart. Shortness of breath is a symptom that is an indication of a serious outcome, especially if the patient has had heart failure earlier.

Why does weight increase when on Insulin Lispro?

Typically, cells rely on insulin to eliminate excess sugar from blood, and this is stored as fat in the body. When individuals receive Insulin Lispro, this accumulation of fat increases over time and this results in weight gain. Patients on this medication are to follow a proper diet and exercise regimen to keep weight in check.

Common symptoms of low blood sugar levels

As mentioned above, there is the possibility of the medication causing a dip in blood sugar levels. Symptoms of hypoglycemia include unusually irritated behavior, feelings of nausea and abnormal hunger. The individual is likely to experience anxiety, in addition to abnormal sweating. The pace of heart beats may change to an increased pace, or there could be irregular heartbeats also. The individual may feel dizzy, and vision may be impacted, apart from unusual shaking. Hypoglycemia is to be treated with a sense of urgency, as this could turn into a serious condition quickly. For instance, the patient may enter into a coma, or there could be seizures as a result of low blood sugar levels.

There is the possibility of fatalities in rare instances, and this makes it necessary to seek emergency treatment, especially if the following symptoms are witnessed. When the individual’s speech is slurred, when there is difficulty in performing routine actions like walking properly, when the individual appears confused, or if there is difficulty concentrating. To fix low blood sugar levels, it is necessary to seek medical attention, and till the time help arrives, the patient is to be given liquid or food that contains sugar which can be absorbed quickly. For instance, juice, soda, candy or tablet forms of glucose. It is necessary to know the distinction between these products and products that are sugar-free, as sugar free products are of no use in such situations.

What are the symptoms of hypokalemia?

Hypokalemia refers to low blood levels of potassium, that is essential for the functioning of heart muscles. Potassium is an electrolyte and the levels of potassium in the blood can reduce with Insulin Lispro use. While mild hypokalemia may not present any symptoms, severe conditions can trigger symptoms, including abnormal constipation, irregular pace of heart beat, cramping of the muscle, and overall weakness. It is necessary periodically check blood potassium levels if there is a perceived risk of the condition. Medications can help boost potassium levels, and this is under medical supervision.

How to minimize injection site reactions?

To reduce the possibility of injection site reactions, it is necessary to choose a different site each time. Patients are to avoid injecting at sites that have already thickened, or where pits or lumps have formed. Similarly, areas that appear bruised, or are tender, or hard and scaly are also to be avoided as sites for injection.

Possible symptoms of allergic reactions

Allergies are a possibility and patients are advised to discuss history of allergies in detail. Any symptoms in the past or present such as outbreak of rashes, or itching sensations are to be brought to the notice of the specialist. Similarly, any swelling beneath the skin, or in the mouth, or any abnormal sensations of flushing are also to be reported.

Insulin Lispro side effects: drug interactions

In addition to undesirable outcomes of medications, there is also the possibility of drug interactions. This occurs when two or more medications are taken for treating different conditions. The medications, especially when taken at the same time or during the same period of treatment end up with a conflict in the mechanism of action or the properties of compounds and this triggers drug interactions. The outcomes of this can be broadly classified into three different types – increased potency of the medications, decreased potency of the medications, aggravation of side effects of either or both the medications.

Measures used for controlling this include temporary discontinuation of either of the two medications, change of either of the two medications, and altering the dosage and schedule of the medications so as to minimize or mitigate the effects. Wherever possible, either of the medications are discontinued, and this is determined on the basis of the importance of the drugs. However, when both are critically important, other options are put in practice. Interactions are not limited to prescription drugs alone and includes OTC medications, herbal remedies, supplements and alternative/traditional medicine.

Medications that interact with Insulin Lispro

Medications that interact with Insulin Lispro include the diabetes drug thiazolidinediones, which may result in possible heart failure. Certain medications of diuretics category are also known to interact with the medication. It is therefore necessary to check with the specialist before use of diuretics – a common example is furosemide.

In addition to this, individuals who consume alcohol are to bear in mind that consumption when on Insulin Lispro can have serious consequences, and it is therefore necessary to avoid alcohol. Consumption in levels that do not pose a risk may be practised, but it is necessary to seek medical advice regarding the limits, and it is equally important to stick to those limits.

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