Images are for illustrative purposes only. MAT-MY-2300341-1.0 (05/23)
Your doctor has prescribed you insulin to manage your diabetes. But the thought of a self-injection or even the sight of a needle may make you squirm. It is perfectly normal to feel nervous around needles and self-injections. Here are some practical tips that can help you administer insulin confidently and to get the most out of your treatment.
1. Rotate your injection sites
The absorption of insulin may be affected by where you inject your insulin. For instance, insulin is absorbed fastest from the abdomen, followed by the arm and slowest from the thigh and buttocks.1 Injecting insulin at the exact same spot repeatedly may cause skin lesions, which can slow down insulin absorption.2
Try rotating your injections sites, i.e., picking a new spot each time for your insulin injection. This will help with better insulin absorption, thus ensuring good blood sugar level control.2
2. Keep your blood sugar level in check
Checking your blood sugar levels regularly while on insulin therapy ensures that your blood sugar levels remain within target range. Staying in this range can help avoid serious diabetes complications.3 The frequency of blood sugar level testing depends both on the type of diabetes you have and treatment you receive.3 Typically, blood sugar levels are checked when you first wake up, before your meals and two hours after, and at bedtime.3 Your blood sugar levels can help your doctor tailor the right insulin dose to your lifestyle and needs.
It is important to monitor your blood sugar levels even more closely when you are sick. The hormones that your body releases to fight the illness can raise your blood sugar levels.4 Typically, skipping a meal when you are on insulin therapy can cause dangerously low blood sugar levels; skipping a meal due to an illness like flu or an infection can cause blood sugar levels to rise.5
Newer diabetes technology such as continuous glucose meters (CGM) has made monitoring blood sugar levels throughout the day much easier.6 The fear of needles can also be overcome with this new technology as it can measure your blood sugar levels without having to prick your finger.6
3. Staying adherent is key
It is important for you to take your insulin therapy consistently to manage your diabetes. The hectic nature of daily life – a busy work schedule, oversleeping, having an illness, or simply forgetting to take your injections – can get in the way of controlling your diabetes. Various studies have shown that suboptimal insulin use, like missed and mistimed insulin doses due to disrupted daily routines and social situations, may be associated with people with diabetes not achieving blood sugar level targets and higher rates of hypoglycemia.7
Setting an alarm on your mobile phone or having an injection schedule depending on your day can help ensure you do not miss a dose. Involving your family members can also help incorporate your medication into a routine.
4. Taking insulin while pregnant
Insulin is the preferred treatment for women with gestational diabetes as it does not cross the placenta.8,9 Other antidiabetic medications lack long-term safety data in offspring.8,9 Insulin can be injected using a syringe, an insulin pen or through an insulin pump – these are tolerable methods for pregnant women.9
Your success on diabetes management is up to you
Insulin remains one of the most effective treatment to achieve blood sugar control.10 Your treatment plan will be based on the type of diabetes you have, how long you have had diabetes, and if lifestyle intervention or other antidiabetic medications work for you.
It is important for you and your caregiver to follow through with your doctor’s recommendations to keep your blood sugar levels within the target range. To get the most out of your insulin therapy, be sure to ask your doctor on how to manage your treatment better. For instance, how do you use and store insulin, the frequency of blood sugar level testing while on insulin, and your ideal blood sugar levels range.
You will find an insulin routine that keep your blood sugar levels near target and live the life you want with the help of your diabetes care team.
Learn more about how to start insulin.
- Gradel AKJ, et al. J Diabetes Res 2018;2018:1205121.
- Heinemann L. J Diabetes Sci Technol 2010;4:750–3.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Manage blood sugar. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/manage-blood-sugar.html. Accessed February 2023.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Managing sick days. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/flu-sick-days.html. Accessed February 2023.
- Cleveland Clinic. Missing meals? Avoid dangerous blood sugar if you have diabetes. Available at: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/how-to-monitor-your-diabetes-when-youre-not-eating-well/. Accessed June 2022.
- Diabetes UK. What is diabetes technology? Available at: https://www.diabetes.org.uk/guide-to-diabetes/diabetes-technology/what-is-diabetes-technology. Accessed June 2022.
- Robinson S, et al. Diabetes Technol Ther 2021;23:844–56.
- El Sayed NA, et al. Diabetes Care 2023;46(Supplement_1):S524–66.
- American Diabetes Association. Gestational diabetes: Prenatal care. Available at: https://www.diabetes.org/diabetes/gestational-diabetes/prenatal-care. Accessed June 2022.
- Richard J, Lingvay I. Expert Rev Cardiovasc Ther 2010;8:483–5.