Insulin lowers your blood sugar by helping the sugar to go from your blood into the cells of your body (such as your muscles) so that it can be used for energy. Insulin is taken by injection (shots).

It is measured in units. There are several different kinds of insulin that your healthcare provider can prescribe for you depending on the reason that you need the insulin. Some insulin work quickly and some work slowly depending on what you need the insulin to do. Be sure to read the label on your insulin bottle.

You must take insulin every day at about the same time of day. See the Diabetes Book for more information about when to take your insulin.

Fears with Insulin

People are often scared about starting insulin because they have heard stories from their friends and family that are often not true. Insulin does not cause you to become blind or lose an arm or a leg. Complications like those happen when a person with diabetes has had high blood sugars over time that has caused damage to different parts of the body. In fact, waiting too long to start insulin may cause damage to parts of the body.

Where to give your insulin shots

People who give themselves insulin shots often have a favorite place on their body to give the shot. This is not a good idea because it can cause that place to become hard and then the insulin will not work well.

  • Belly (or abdomen) is best
  • Do not give a shot into your muscles
  • Do not give a shot into scars or a place with infection
  • Use a different place for each shot. Do not rub the place after the shot

Sometimes you may get a bruise or one to two drops of blood at the place you gave your insulin. Do not rub that place—just press on the place for 15-20 seconds to stop any bleeding. Tell your healthcare provider or nurse about any skin rash or changes in the way your skin looks where you give your insulin shot. Do not stop taking your insulin without talking to your provider first.

Where to give your insulin shots

Use “The Five Ps” when using insulin:

  1. Pinch your skin
  2. Pierce your skin with the needle
  3. Push. If you are using a syringe: push the pluger all the way down. If you are using a pen device: Push the button until the number “0” is seen.
  4. Pause after the medicine is in and count to “five”
  5. Pull the needle out

To get rid of needles safely, put the pen needle and syringe in a thick plastic container like a bleach bottle. Tape on the lid when it’s full and throw it away in the trash. Do not use thin plastic containers like milk jugs.

Storing your insulin

Put the insulin you are not using in the fridge. Keep the bottle you are using away from the sun and the heat. Check the insulin for crystals, flakes or lumps. If insulin isn’t stored right, it will go bad quickly. Always make sure that your insulin hasn’t expired.