Frequently Asked Questions

Get answers to some of the most frequently asked questions people with diabetes have about insulin treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions About Insulin Pen Use

How do I take insulin?

Insulin is typically injected under the skin (subcutaneously) using a syringe, insulin pump, or injector pen.1

You should make your insulin injections in the same general area of your body, but not in the exact same place.1

Your insulin injections should also be timed with your meals so that the glucose entering your body can be processed effectively.1

How do I store my insulin?

Here are some important tips for storing insulin:3

  • Keep your insulin away from extreme hot or cold environments
  • Never store your insulin in the freezer, expose it to direct sunlight, or keep it in your car’s glove compartment
  • Always check your insulin’s expiration date and never use it if it’s expired
  • Always examine your insulin’s appearance to see if it looks normal before using it
LEARN ABOUT PEN STORAGE AND TRAVEL

What types of insulin pens are available?

Insulin pens typically fall into two categories2:

  • Reusable insulin pens: can be loaded with insulin cartridges for continued use2
  • Disposable insulin pens: are pre-filled with insulin and must be thrown away when finished2
LEARN ABOUT REUSABLE INSULIN PENS LEARN ABOUT DISPOSABLE INSULIN PENS

What should my insulin look like?4,5

Some insulins are cloudy such as mixtures. While others are clear such as regular insulin, glargine and lispro.

Check your Consumer Information Leaflet to see what your insulin should look like.

What if my dose is higher than the maximum dose on the pen?4,5

If your prescribed dose is more than the maximum dose on the pen, you will need to give yourself more than one injection.

Contact your doctor if you have questions about taking multiple injections.

What should I do if I cannot turn the insulin dose knob when priming?4

If you cannot turn your insulin pen’s dose knob when priming, take the following steps:

  1. Attach a new needle
  2. Prime the pen

What should I do if my insulin pen is jammed?4

Your insulin pen may be jammed if it becomes difficult to dial or inject your dose. To clear the jam, take the following steps:

  1. Attach a new needle
  2. Prime the pen
  3. Dial your dose and inject

Important: Keep your pen clear of dirt, dust, or any other foreign material that may jam the dose knob or injector button, and do not attempt to lubricate the pen as it may damage the mechanism.

Why should I use a new needle for each injection?4

By reusing needles, you increase the risk of taking the wrong insulin dose due to needle clogging, or getting an infection due to the loss of sterility.

What should I do if I cannot dial my full dose?4

Your insulin pen will not allow you to dial a dose greater than the number of insulin units remaining in the cartridge.

For example, if you need a dose of 30 units but your pen’s cartridge only has 25 units remaining, you have two options:

  1. Inject the partial dose and then take the remaining dose using a new cartridge/pen
  2. Use a new cartridge/pen to take your full dose

Why is site rotation important when taking my insulin injections?

Insulin injections work faster when taken in the abdomen, work slower when taken in the upper arms, and work slowest when taken in the thighs and buttocks.2

Do not take your insulin injections in the exact same place each time. Instead, take your injections around the same area as you risk developing hard lumps or fatty deposits when injecting in the exact same place.2

If you are unsure about where to inject your insulin, contact your doctor.

Learn More About Injection Site Rotation

Why is it so important to check my blood sugar (glucose) regularly?

Checking your blood sugar (glucose) regularly can help you understand the impact that activities and foods have on your blood sugar (glucose) level. This can help you predict when you are likely to experience high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) or low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) levels.2

Important: Ask your doctor how frequently you should be measuring your blood sugar (glucose).

You've Just Completed the Starting Insulin Section

Congratulations! You should now have a better understanding of how to use and store your insulin injection pen, as well as where to inject your insulin.

In addition, you should also have answers to some of the most frequently asked questions people with diabetes have about their insulin medication.

Don’t forget to check out the Low Blood Sugar, Why Insulin? and Living with Diabetes sections to get the basic knowledge you need for a successful insulin treatment journey.

About My Insulin Pen
How to Identify Low Blood Sugar
References
  1. http://www.aafp.org/afp/1999/0801/p649.html
  2. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/medication/insulin/insulin-routines.html#sthash.3ON1PHPf.dpuf
  3. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/medication/insulin/insulin-storage-and-syringe-safety.html
  4. User Manual: https://www1.ndmctsgh.edu.tw/pharm/pic/medinsert/005HUM20PIE.pdf
  5. User Guide Manual: http://pi.lilly.com/us/basaglar-kwikpen-us-ifu.pdf
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