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As long as your insulin is refrigerated, it will last a long time. Once you’ve taken it out of the fridge and opened it, it has a 30-day shelf life. It’s important to note the date of first use on the vial.

Many people wonder about discarding sharps. Saul advises her patients to use something opaque, and thick enough that sharps won’t pierce it. “Any hard plastic detergent bottle will work well,” she says. “Some communities will let you dispose of sharps in the regular trash if they are in that closed container; in other areas, you have to bring the container to a central location. Ask your local health department if your doctor doesn’t have the information.”

Track your blood sugar carefully.

“Keep a regular record of your blood sugar when on insulin,” says Saul. “This can help you manage both your blood sugars and the insulin you’re taking. You’ll see patterns and trends.”

For example, say you’re on a once-a-day dose of long-acting insulin, and your goal is to get your morning sugar level under 130. “So check it in the morning,” Saul says if you’re not at your goal yet and you’re not having hypoglycemic episodes, you may need to increase your dose. Talk with your doctor or diabetes educator; tracking and monitoring your sugars this way gives you authority over your own care.

“It was scary when I got put on insulin, just like it was scary when I was first diagnosed,” says Williams. “But it’s just that your body is changing. You’re getting older, things are happening, and sometimes it’s just a choice that your body makes at the moment. It gets commonplace easily, and you’ll learn to manage insulin just like you learned to manage diabetes.”

Counting Carbs With Insulin

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