Administrating Insulin and Insulin Analogues

Starting on insulin, commonly asked questions

Who is likely to need insulin?

Newly diagnosed type 1.

Type 2 diabetic on maximum oral therapy with poor control.

Gestational diabetes (developing diabetes during pregnancy)

How will it be administered?

Nowadays insulin is usually given using a pen device. There are a number of pens available which can be used to make injections easier Insulin can also be given through an insulin pump..Your specialist nurse will help you choose the one most suitable for you.

Will the injections hurt?

On the whole injecting insulin is relatively painless. The needles used for injecting are very fine and short. Most patients find that injecting insulin is much less painful than pricking their finger to take a blood sample.

You should change your needle after each injection.

How often will the insulin have to be injected?

There are a number of insulin regimes that can be used and your diabetes specialist will advise you of the most appropriate one for you.

Once daily long acting insulin can be taken along with diabetic tablets.

Insulin mixtures are taken twice a day, usually before breakfast and before the evening meal.

Basal Bolus insulin is taken four times a day, using a quick acting insulin before each meal and a basal insulin once a day to give steady background control.

Where does the insulin need to be stored?

Spare insulin needs to be stored in the fridge.

Insulin in use can be kept at room temperature for up to one month.

Do not freeze your insulin.

Do not Use insulin that is out of date.

Do I need to change my diet when I start insulin?

You need to continue to eat a healthy diet having regular meals, remembering to include a portion of starchy food (ie bread potatoes cereal pasta or rice) at each meal. You may be advised to have a small snack between meals. Do not miss meals, but at the same time keep a watch on your weight, as it could increase as your blood sugars improve.

Can I still drive my car?

You must inform the DVLA and your car insurance company that your treatment for diabetes is insulin. Refer to the separate leaflet on driving and diabetes for more information. Unfortunately you will not be able to hold an HGV licence when you are on insulin.

What about exercise?

It is advisable to try and incorporate some exercise each day into your routine. Not only will this help to bring your blood sugar down, it will help your weight, circulation and general well being. You may need to reduce your insulin.

What about hypos (low blood sugars)

When your blood sugars are running in the target range of 4-9 mmols, the risk of a having hypo symptoms is marginally higher. You will experience physical signs to show this is happening. You may start to feel shaky, sweaty, hungry, dizzy, tired or confused. These are some of the symptoms you may experience. This is a sign that your body is low in sugar and you need to treat this without delay.

You should always carry one of the following with you:

  • Dextrosol  glucose sweets
  • Sugar cubes
  • Small bottle of lucozade or coke
  • Small carton of fruit juice.

Take 2-3 sweets or similar if you have these symptoms and then follow it up with some bread or 2-3 biscuits or a meal if the hypo is just prior to this.


For more information, refer to the page on hypoglycaemia.


Liz Hartley
Diabetes Specialist Nurse
Updated November 2007