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Diabetes Health Center

Questions About Insulin for and from Your Doctor

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People with type 1 diabetes may need up to three or four injections daily. Those with type 2 diabetes may need just one shot of insulin a day, possibly increasing to three or four injections.  

Find out how many times a day you'll need to inject, and how much insulin to inject in each dose. If you're using an insulin pump, ask your doctor when you'll need to give yourself an extra injection (bolus).

When should I take my insulin?

How often you take insulin depends on several factors, including:  

  • The type of insulin you use (fast-acting, premixed, etc.)
  • How much and what type of food you eat
  • How much exercise you get
  • Other health conditions you have
  • The type of insulin delivery system you use

Your doctor may want you to take insulin a half-hour before meals, so it's available when sugar from food enters your bloodstream. Find out exactly when during the day you need to take each of your injections, and what to do if you forget to give yourself an injection.

Where should I inject the insulin?

There are some factors to consider when deciding where to inject. Most people select the abdomen since it’s an easily accessible region. Your insulin shot will work fastest if you inject it into the stomach (be sure to stay at least 2 inches from the belly button). But you can also inject insulin into your arms, thighs, or buttocks. Ask your doctor or diabetes educator to show you the right way to inject, including how to keep your needle and skin clean to prevent infections. Also learn how to rotate the injection site so you don't develop hard, fatty deposits under the skin from repeated injections.

How will insulin interact with other medicines I'm taking?

Low blood sugars caused by insulin can be intensified by some medications. Tell your doctor all of the medicines you're taking -- even drugs you bought without a prescription.  

What can I eat while taking insulin?

Ask your doctor for dietary recommendations to help your insulin work most effectively. Find out how much food to eat at each meal, which types of foods are best for you to eat, whether you need to have snacks, and at what times to eat. If you drink alcohol, ask your doctor whether you can continue to drink while taking insulin, and if so, how much alcohol is safe to drink.

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If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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