Don White, 68, a retired science teacher from upstate New York, first suspected he had type 2 diabetes when he was 45 years old and his school held a health fair for students and teachers. A simple prick of his finger to test for high blood sugar -- a sign of diabetes -- revealed some unexpected news.
"My numbers were way above normal," says White. "In a matter of days, and a couple of doctor's appointments later, I found out I had type 2 diabetes."
White and his family were surprised by the diagnosis...
Rapid-acting insulin. This starts to work within a few minutes and lasts for a couple of hours.
Regular- or short-acting insulin. It takes about 30 minutes to work fully and lasts for 3 to 6 hours.
Intermediate-acting insulin. This takes 2 to 4 hours to work fully. Its effects can last for up to 18 hours.
Long-acting insulin. It can work for an entire day.
Your doctor may prescribe more than one type.
You might need to take insulin more than once daily, to space your doses throughout the day, and possibly to also take other medicines. Your doctor will tell you exactly what you need.
How Do I Take It?
There are several methods. You can give yourself an insulin injection using a needle and syringe, a cartridge system, or pre-filled pen systems. Inhaled insulin, insulin pumps, and a quick-acting insulin device are also available.
If you use an injectable insulin, the place on the body where you give yourself the shot may matter.
You'll absorb insulin the most consistently when you inject it into your belly. The next best places to inject it are your arms, thighs, and buttocks.
Make it a habit to inject insulin at the same general area of your body, but vary the exact injection spot. This helps minimize scarring under the skin.
What Are the Side Effects?
The major ones include:
Low blood sugar
Weight gain when you first start using insulin
Lumps or scars where you've had too many insulin injections
Rash at the site of injection or over the entire body (rare)
With inhaled insulin, there's a chance that the lungs could tighten suddenly in people who have asthma or the lung disease COPD.
How Should I Store My Insulin?
If you use injectable insulin, always keep two bottles of each type of your insulin on hand. You can store the bottle that you are using at room temperature (not higher than 80 F) for 30 days. Keep it where it will not get too hot or too cold, and out of direct sunlight.