Controlling Diabetes with Insulin: Common FAQs

February 8th, 2013

If you've recently been prescribed insulin as part of your diabetic treatment, there must be plenty of questions in your head. On the other hand, you may not even know where to begin or what to ask. Here is a handy list of questions you should quiz your physician on. It will give you a clearer picture of what to expect once your course of insulin begins.

What kind of insulin will I need to use?

There are four basic types of insulin. It's important to ask your doctor which of them would be best suited to you, given your blood sugar level and the type of diabetes you are suffering from

1. Rapid-acting insulin: Works within a few minutes of being administered but lasts only for a couple of hours.

2. Short-acting insulin: Also known as regular acting insulin, it starts working in about half an hour and keeps you going for 3-6 hours.

3. Intermediate-acting insulin: Once administered, it starts working in 2-4 hours, but its effect lasts up to 18 hours.

4. Long-acting insulin: While it take anywhere from 6-10 hours to take effect, long-acting insulin can last an entire day.

Which delivery method is best for me?

There are four ways in which insulin can be injected into the bloodstream:

a) Syringe

b) Pen

c) Pump

d) Needle-free jet injector

Each method has its own pros and cons - for instance syringes are the most cost-effective option whereas pens are a lot easier to use, but pumps are known to deliver insulin continuously. Ask your doctor about each method in detail and find out which one is covered by your insurance. This will help you reach a final decision.

How often do I have to take an insulin shot?

Patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes may require only one shot of insulin per day, whereas those suffering from type 1 diabetes might need to administer insulin as many as three to four times a day. Ask your doctor how often you will need to take a shot and what the dosage should be like.

When & where am I supposed to take my insulin?

What time of the day a diabetic takes his insulin shot can vary depending on several factors, such as how much exercise he gets, his diet, overall health, the type of insulin he's taking as well as the delivery system being used. Ask your doctor at what time of the day you are required to take the insulin and what you need to do in case you forget to take your shot.

Where the insulin should be injected is yet another thing to discuss with your doctor. While the most common site for the injection is the abdomen, insulin can also be injected into the thighs, arms or buttocks. The doctor should demonstrate the right way to give an injection and educate you on the importance of rotating the injection site.

What side effects should I watch out for?

The most common side effects associated with insulin are weight gain and low blood sugar. There are others as well which you must ask your brother about. In addition, you should take advice on how to tackle these side effects, if they do manifest themselves.

Once you start taking insulin shots, your life will change in many ways. Asking the right questions will prepare you for these transformations and help you approach them with an educated mind.