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How Should I Store My Insulin?

Always keep two bottles of each type of your insulin on hand. The bottle that you are using may be stored at room temperature (not higher than 80º F) for 30 days. Store it where it will not get too hot or too cold and keep it out of direct sunlight.

A good rule of thumb is that if the temperature is comfortable for you, the insulin is safe. Vials of insulin that you are using do not be need to be refrigerated. However, extra bottles of insulin should be stored in the refrigerator. The night before you are ready to use your new bottle, take it out of the refrigerator and allow it to warm to room temperature. Do not allow your insulin to freeze.

For insulin pens, check the package insert for storage instructions.

Always check your insulin bottle. Rapid-acting insulin, short-acting insulin, and certain long-acting insulins should be clear. Other forms of insulin should have a cloudy appearance but should be free of clumps.

If you are carrying your insulin with you, be careful not to shake it. Shaking the bottle creates air bubbles that can affect the amount of insulin you withdraw for an injection.

When Do I Take Insulin?

If you have diabetes, follow your health care provider's guidelines on when to take your insulin. The time span between your insulin injection and meals may vary depending on the type of insulin you are taking. For example, if you use a rapid-acting insulin, you should generally take it 10 minutes before eating a meal, or take it with your meal.

If you use regular- or intermediate-acting insulin, you should generally take it about one half-hour before your meals, or at bedtime. By taking your insulin one half-hour before meals, you are allowing your food to be absorbed at the same time that the insulin starts to work. This will help you avoid low blood sugar reactions.

What Do I Need to Know When I Pick Up My Insulin Prescription?

Before you pay for your insulin at the pharmacy, always check the label to make sure it's the type prescribed by your doctor. Using the wrong type can affect your blood sugar control.

Check the expiration date on the insulin box. The date must allow you enough time to use the whole bottle. The bottle generally will lose potency about a month after being opened. To find out how long the medicine will last, divide the number of units in the bottle by the number of units you take each day.

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Learn how carbs affect blood sugar levels so you can manage diabetes.
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