7 Insulin Mistakes to Avoid

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Gina Garippo on July 16, 2021
  • portrait of happy senior woman sitting with family outside at dinner table
    7 Insulin Mistakes to Avoid
    Insulin may be necessary to control blood sugar levels. But it can also cause a host of problems if not used correctly. Studies show that the use of insulin is associated with more medication errors than any other type of drug. Take steps to avoid these common insulin mistakes.
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    1. Double-check your dose
    If you are in the hospital, make sure your doctors and nurses know what type of insulin you take and the correct dosage. It’s not uncommon to be given the wrong medication. And although insulin requirements may change during a hospital stay, always ask before it’s administered.
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    2. Keep it lukewarm
    Storing insulin in the refrigerator preserves shelf life but using it while still chilled can lead to painful injections. Instead, keep your current bottle of insulin at room temperature, where it can last a month. Just remember to refrigerate any extra insulin bottles until you are ready to use them.
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    3. Learn how to inject yourself
    It’s important to inject insulin in the same general area (think leg or abdomen) but not in the exact location. If you inject in the same spot, hard lumps or fatty deposits may develop. Not only can they be unattractive, they can also make the insulin less reliable.
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    4. Know your symptoms
    Too much insulin can lead to hypoglycemia, or low blood glucose, which can be dangerous if left untreated. But you can treat hypoglycemia quickly if you recognize the symptoms. Pay attention to how your body reacts when blood sugar drops. Signs may include dizziness, hunger, shakiness, nervousness, confusion, and weakness. Always have a ready source of glucose nearby (such as juice or candy) to consume if you experience these symptoms.
  • happy man holding up bowl of food at family gatheirng around dinner table
    5. Time it right
    Stay on a regular meal schedule and don’t delay eating after using mealtime insulin. Short-acting mealtime insulin must be timed with your meals so it effectively processes the glucose entering your system.
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    6. Be cautious reusing syringes
    If done carefully, some people can reuse syringes to cost down on costs. But beware of reusing if you are sick, have open sores on your hands, or have poor resistance to infection. Ask your doctor if reusing is an option for you.
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    7. Watch the alcohol
    Rubbing alcohol can be an effective cleaning solution. But it doesn’t work well with syringes. Wiping an insulin syringe with alcohol can take off the outer coating that helps it slide through the skin easily.
7 Insulin Mistakes to Avoid

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Last Review Date: 2021 Jul 16
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.