Questions About Insulin for and from Your Doctor
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.
What is my target blood sugar level?
Ask your doctor how often you need to check your blood sugar level using your blood glucose meter. Find out your target blood sugar range before and after meals, as well as at bedtime. For most people with diabetes, the targets are:
- 70 to 130 mg/dL before meals
- Less than 180 mg/dL 1 to 2 hours after the start of a meal
Ask what to do if your blood sugar isn't staying within range, and how often you need to have your A1C level tested.
What side effects could I have from the insulin?
Insulin can have side effects, most commonly low blood sugar and weight gain. Ask your doctor what side effects you might have, and what to do if you experience them.
How should I store my insulin?
Most insulin manufacturers recommend storing insulin in the refrigerator, but injecting cold insulin can be uncomfortable. Make sure it’s at room temperature before injecting. Ask your doctor whether to store your insulin in the fridge or at room temperature. Also find out how long your insulin will last, and how to tell if it has gone bad.
Can I reuse syringes?
Reusing syringes can lower your costs. Ask your doctor whether you can safely reuse your syringes, and how to keep them clean to prevent infection. If you throw out your syringes after each use, learn how to safely dispose of them.