Insulin is a hormone made in the pancreas. It helps us move glucose (sugar) from our blood into our cells where it’s used for energy.

The carbohydrates we eat are broken down into sugar in our blood. They’re in starchy foods like bread, potatoes and rice as well as fruit, some dairy products and other sweet food.

In type 1 diabetes people don’t make any insulin. So, they need to take insulin by either injection or pump.

People with type 2 diabetes also may need insulin at some point of time because diabetes keeps changing and the oral medicines may not work very well as they were intended. Sometimes in type 2 they may only need it for a short time for particular reasons like pregnancy, severe illness, surgery or even to bring about a good control in case of very high sugars and it could be stopped afterwards.

How It’s Taken

You will need to inject insulin with a syringe or a special pen. Usually in the outer aspect of thigh, bottom stomach and upper arm are preferred areas. Basically, where there’s plenty of fatty tissue.

These are the steps to be followed for insulin injection:

  • Decide where you are going to inject
  • Make sure your hands and the place you are injecting are clean
  • If you are using a premixed insulin pen or bottle, roll the insulin pen or bottle in your palms several times before withdrawing the insulin.
  • If you are using a pen squirt out 2 units of insulin into the air. This makes sure the top of the needle is filled with insulin.
  • If using a bottle, draw air into the syringe equal to your insulin dose and inject into the bottle. Then draw the required dose.
  • Pinch a fold of skin and insert the needle at 90 degrees angle.
  • Put the needle in quickly.
  • Inject the insulin. Make sure the plunger (syringe) or thumb button (if using a pen) is fully pressed down and count to 10 before removing it.
  • Let go of the skin fold and dispose of the needle safely.
  • Always use a new needle. Reusing a needle makes it blunt and painful to inject.

Tips For Injecting

  • Change the place you inject each time. Don’t go to the same place. Rotation of sites is important to prevent the build-up of small lumps under the skin. This also helps in proper absorption of insulin.
  • Do not be disturbed if a small amount of blood appears after the needle is withdrawn.

Where to keep your insulin?

Any insulin that you are currently not using can be kept in the side door of your fridge. Do not put it in or too close to the freezer compartment, as the insulin may be damaged.

Question Corner

Insulin is good for diabetes management and control of blood sugar. It does not produce any side-effects or illness. In fact, insulin delays the onset of diabetes-related complications of eyes, heart, kidneys and nerves.

Insulin does not cause any addiction or dependence.

Injecting insulin is very simple and can be self-administered without others help. Very fine, short needles and pen type devices have made injection of insulin painless and easy.
Insulin is only available as injections and cannot be taken orally.