Starting Insulin Injections: What To Expect

Insulin injections are a way of life for many people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, but for some people, they can be a little intimidating at first. If you're starting insulin injections, it's helpful to know what to expect so there are no surprises along the way and you can be prepared to easily navigate complications or challenges.

Weight Gain

It's not uncommon to experience a little weight gain when you begin insulin injections. According to the American Academy of Family Physician's organization, this weight gain is due to the anabolic effects of insulin, increased caloric retention, stimulated appetite or "defensive" eating due to hypoglycemia.

Once you get the hang of your insulin injections and it becomes a more regular part of your lifestyle and routine, you may see this weight naturally drop off. Speak with your physician, however, if you're concerned about how to prevent weight gain through changes in diet or exercise.

Pain

Insulin injections can be slightly painful for some people - many individuals will experience tenderness or soreness at the injection site. These symptoms usually aren't unbearable or long-lasting, however, and many needles are now thinner and shorter, which can decrease sensitivity.

Hypoglycemia

When you begin to balance your blood sugar with insulin injections, you may find it hard to match this with appropriate carbohydrate intake, at first. This can result in episodes of extremely low blood sugar or hypoglycemia. It's important to familiarize yourself with the symptoms of this condition so you can treat it quickly. Most of the time this involves eating a fast-acting carbohydrate source, like a small cup of juice or a glucose tablet.

Storage

You'll also need to learn how to store your insulin properly when you first start injections. Never leave insulin in the freezer, and keep your extra supply in the refrigerator. Avoid shaking or handling the insulin roughly, as this can cause clumping.

Make sure to check the expiration date on your insulin boxes before you buy them, and also ensure you are buying the right kind.

Traveling

Another part of taking insulin injections is learning how to travel safely. Remember to regularly check your blood sugar during trips, especially if you are switching time zones or changing your eating schedule.

Make sure your insulin supplies are clearly labeled in order to get through airport security faster.

It's always a good idea to prepare for the worst-case scenario, so make sure you travel with two to three times the amount of insulin you think you'll need.

Finally, keep your insulin supplies away from extreme temperatures.

Source: Lily Diabetes, AAFP
Photo: Pexels

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