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How Is Insulin Given for Diabetes?

Insulin for diabetes can be injected under the skin (subcutaneously) or into the vein (intravenously).

How Is Insulin Injected?

Insulin can be injected using a needle and syringe, a cartridge system, or prefilled pen systems. Insulin pumps are also available.

Where on the Body Should Insulin Be Injected?

The place on the body where you inject your insulin may affect the timing of its benefit to you. The abdomen (stomach) has the fastest rate of absorption, followed by the arms, thighs, and buttocks. Absorption is also the most consistent in the abdomen.

You should try to consistently inject insulin at the same general site on your body. This helps keep your insulin absorption constant. You should also alternate the location of the exact injection spot within that general area. This helps prevent the breakdown and scarring of fat tissue under the skin, a condition known as lipoatrophy.

If you are in the hospital, you may receive intravenous insulin, which is more rapidly absorbed than doses given directly under the skin.

What Are the Side Effects of Insulin?

The major side effects of insulin taken for diabetes include:

  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
  • Hypertrophy, or enlargement of the area of the body that has received too many insulin injections
  • Rash at the site of injection or over the entire body (rare)


How Is Insulin Dosed for Diabetes?

Injectable insulin for diabetes treatment is packaged in vials. The drug is available in concentrations of 100 or 500 units per milliliter, also called U-100 or U-500. A vial of insulin usually has 3 or 10 milliliters. Most of the insulin used is U-100 concentration. Occasionally, patients requiring very high doses of insulin will be prescribed U-500 insulin.

Your initial dose is calculated based on your weight and sensitivity to insulin, which varies from person to person.

When given under the skin, insulin is typically taken so that two-thirds of the total daily dose is given in the morning and one-third of the total daily dose is given in the evening.

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