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Diabetes Health Center

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Do Insulin Shots Make You Squeamish?


3. Focus on fat.

In this case, "Fat is good!" Smithson says. To work properly, insulin is supposed to be injected into fatty tissue. The bonus is that getting shots in fleshy sections of your body is less painful than it would be in leaner areas. The stomach, upper arms, thighs, and buttocks all tend to be good spots.

To make shots as painless as possible:

  • Always inject insulin at room temperature.
  • Let the alcohol you use to clean your skin dry so it doesn't burn.
  • Relax the part of your body you're targeting.

You should also insert and remove the needle in a swift, smooth manner without shifting direction, Antinori-Lent says.

If you're still bothered by the prick of the needle, use a cold spoon to numb the area first, Ghiloni says. And it helps to take some deep breaths and calm yourself, especially when you’re new to the process.

Are There Any Alternatives?

If your doctor says you need to take insulin, and you cannot deal with giving yourself shots, tell your doctor or diabetes educator.

It may be that you could use an insulin pump. But that’s not the best solution for everyone. You have to commit to checking your blood sugar often (at least four times a day) and make sure you adjust your insulin dose as needed, such as at meal time or if your blood sugar gets too high.

You could also ask if an injection port would help. You’ll still need to use a needle or “pen,” but it would go into the port that’s held on your skin by a patch, instead of directly into your skin.

There's a form of insulin that you can inhale. But you may still need shots or a pump, because it’s a rapid-acting type of insulin that you take at the beginning of a meal. If you need long-acting insulin, too -- which includes anyone with type 1 diabetes and some people with type 2 -- then you would still need shots or a pump for that. You should not use inhaled insulin if you smoke or have lung diseases such as asthma or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder).

The bottom line is, if you need insulin, you need insulin. Shots may be easier than you think, but if you have any qualms, your doctor or other diabetes care pros can help you get on the right track.

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Reviewed on September 11, 2015
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