Taking insulin for diabetes

Somali: Dawooyin - Insulin (lagu isku duro)

Insulin and other injectables

Insulin is a hormone that is made by the pancreas. If your pancreas does not make any insulin or does not make enough insulin, your health care provider may want you to take injections (shots) of insulin.

Your health care provider or diabetes educator will decide what types of insulin you should take, when you should take them and how often. It is not unusual to take more than one type of insulin. Have your health care provider or nurse write down this important information for you.

Your type of insulin

Circle type(s) of insulin:

Humalog®

NovoLog®  Apidra®  Regular 
NPH Lantus®  Levemir®  Humulin® R U-500 
70/30 50/50  75/25  NovoLog® Mix 70/30 

Other ____________________________________________

Your times and amounts

Record times and amounts:
before breakfast: _____________________________________
before lunch: ________________________________________
before evening meal: _________________________________
before bed: _________________________________________

As a rule, take your insulin 30 minutes before your meal if you take Regular. If you take Humalog®, NovoLog® or Apidra®, take it right before your meal.

Tip

Insulin can be used with a bottle and syringe or a pen device. Ask your diabetes educator to help you find the best technique for you.

Things to remember about taking insulin

  • The timing of insulin injections and meals is important to controlling your blood glucose* levels. Ask your health care provider or diabetes educator to review your individual plan with you.
  • Take your insulin every day, even if you are feeling sick. If you cannot eat normally because you are sick, follow sick day guidelines.
  • Do not change the amount of insulin that you take without talking to your health care provider or diabetes educator (unless you have been trained to do so).
  • See the end of this page for information on how to safely dispose of used sharps (needles, syringes and lancets).

Storing insulin

  • You can keep bottles of insulin at room temperature if you use them up in 30 days. Keep extra insulin in the refrigerator. Remember to let refrigerated insulin warm up for about 15 minutes before using it. Throw away all open bottles of insulin after 30 days.
  • If you use insulin pens, be aware that room temperature storage guidelines can vary from 7 to 30 days, depending on the insulin type. Check with your diabetes educator or pharmacist.
  • Look at the expiration date on each insulin bottle/open before you use it. Throw out insulin if the expiration date has passed.
  • Avoid exposing insulin to direct sunlight or freezing temperatures.
  • Do not use insulin that is lumpy, sticks to the edges of the bottle/pen or looks discolored.
  • When you travel, keep your insulin with you. Do not leave it in a car or other vehicle. It is a good idea to travel with extra supplies (insulin, syringes and test strips).
  • Regulations for airline travel may apply. Check with the airline before you fly.
    • Keep all medications in their original containers with the pharmacy labels on.
    • Talk with your diabetes educator for more travel suggestions.

How to measure and inject a single type of insulin using an insulin bottle and syringe

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Roll the bottle of cloudy insulin between your hands and turn it upside down to mix.
  3. Remove the cover from the needle.
  4. Draw air into the syringe equal to your prescribed dose of _________ units.
  5. Put the needle into the top of the insulin bottle and shoot air in.
  6. Turn the bottle and syringe upside down.
  7. Pull down and push up on the plunger two or three times—slowly—to get rid of air bubbles. Look carefully to make sure that all bubbles are gone.
  8. Draw out your prescribed amount of insulin: _________ units___________ type.
  9. Pull the needle out of the bottle.
  10. Clean the skin at the injection site, if needed.
  11. Gently pinch skin and inject insulin. Your diabetes educator or health care provider will advise you where to inject your insulin (usually the abdomen).

How to measure and inject two types of insulin using insulin bottles and syringes

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Roll the cloudy bottle of insulin between your hands and turn it upside down to mix.
  3. Remove the cover from the needle.
  4. Draw air into the syringe equal to your prescribed dose ________ (number of units) of cloudy __________________________________ (name) insulin.
  5. Put the needle into the top of the cloudy bottle and shoot air in. Remove the needle. Do not draw out the insulin yet. Set the bottle aside.
  6. Draw air into the syringe equal to your prescribed dose of ________ (number of units) of clear ___________________________________ (name) insulin.
  7. Put the needle into the top of the clear bottle and shoot air in. Do not remove the needle.
  8. Turn the clear bottle and syringe upside down.
  9. Pull down and push up on the plunger two to three times—slowly—to get rid of air bubbles. Look to make sure all bubbles are gone.
  10. Draw out your prescribed amount of clear insulin ________ (number of units).
  11. Pull the needle out of the clear bottle.
  12. Put the needle into the cloudy bottle. Do not push the plunger in.
  13. Draw out the total insulin units prescribed. Clear dose _______ + cloudy dose _______ = total dose (_______). Make sure the amount of insulin in your syringe does not exceed the total units prescribed.
  14. Pull the needle out of the bottle. Clean the injection site if needed.
  15. Gently pinch your skin and inject the insulin. Your diabetes educator or health care provider will advise you where to inject your insulin (usually the abdomen).

Important

Do not mix Lantus® or Levemir® with any other insulin.

How to get rid of your sharps (needles, syringes and lancets) safely

Properly throwing away used sharps (needles, syringes and lancets) is important to keep your family and community safe. This prevents adults, children and pets from finding and being harmed by them.

Sharps disposal

You can buy a sharps disposal container from your pharmacy.
Source: Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

Homemade sharps disposal container

You can make your own sharps disposal container from an empty laundry detergent bottle.
Source: Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

How to store your sharps at home

You will need to have a special container in which to store your used sharps at home. You can:

  • buy a sharps disposal container from your pharmacy make your own container from an empty laundry detergent bottle with a screw-on lid. To make your own sharps disposal container
    • use a pen or marker to write "Do not recycle: household sharps" on a piece of masking tape and stick it on the front of the container
    • place your used sharps point-first into the container
    • screw the cap on tightly and do not take the cap off unless you are placing sharps into it
    • return the sharps to your county drop-off site or send them to a mail-back program. (River Falls Area Hospital does accept sharps. Check with your hospital before dropping off your sharps.)

When storing sharps at home, it is important to remember the following.

  • Do not store sharps in glass bottles, aluminum cans or coffee cans.
  • Always keep your sharps storage container in a place where children and pets cannot reach it.
  • Follow any directions from your county drop-off site or mail-back programs. Some may require that you buy a special sharps disposal container.

How to destroy your sharps

You need to prepare sharps properly before getting rid of them. You can buy a device that:

  • melts sharps. This device uses heat to melt the sharps into small BB-size balls.
    or
  • clips sharps. This device clips sharps and stores them.

How to get rid of your sharps

Never place sharps containers in the recycling or loose sharps in the trash. Choose one of the following options to get rid of your sharps.

  • Throw melted sharps in the trash (not the recycling).
  • Return clipped and stored sharps to:
    • your county drop-off site
    • a mail-back program. You will have to pay for this.

Allina Health hospitals and clinics in Minnesota do not accept sharps.

Please do not bring them to your hospital or clinic.

Whom to call with questions about sharps disposal

Please call your city or county government’s household trash and recycling service with questions. You can find the phone number by visiting:

  • Minnesota: Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
    • Type "household waste" in the search box.
    • Click on Find your household hazardous waste collection site - Minnesota Pollution Control Agency in the search results.
    • Select your county from the drop down menu and click Go!
  • Wisconsin: dnr.wi.gov
    • Type "health care waste" in the search box.
    • Scroll down and click on DNR contacts under "Additional resources."
    • Find the phone number listed for your region.

For more information

For more information about how to safely get rid of your sharps, visit:

  • Minnesota:
    Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
    • Type "household waste" in the search box.
    • Click on Reducing toxicity at home - Minnesota Pollution Control Agency in the search results.
    • Scroll down to the picture of the needle and click on Disposing of needles and syringes.
  • Wisconsin:
    dnr.wi.gov
    • Type "health care waste" in the search box.
    • Scroll down and click on Medical sharps under Households.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Basic Skills for Living with Diabetes, sixth edition
First Published: 11/27/2006
Last Reviewed: 01/09/2015