Pens, needles and injections
Giving injections can be overwhelming or scary. Learn how to be more confident about performing injections with this guide.
Moving on to insulin treatment can seem like a big step. You may feel frustrated that your previous treatment didn't work or worry that injections will be painful, or at least inconvenient.
The good news is that getting started on insulin can bring health and lifestyle benefits. It is also almost certainly going to be easier than you think. There is a lot to learn, but there are many resources to help you get started.
Insulin is an injectable medicine made up of insulin hormone suspended in a solution. Unfortunately, insulin cannot be taken as a tablet - it would be destroyed by your digestive system before it could start working.
Most people with type 2 diabetes use an injectable pen to take insulin. Injection pens are designed to be discreet, easy to use and virtually painless. There is a broad range available to suit different needs, including pre-filled and refillable pens. Some even have a hidden needle.
Your healthcare professional will be able to recommend the pen and injection schedule that best suits your lifestyle and will show you how to administer injections yourself.
Insulin treatment doesn't have to slow you down. Once you've mastered
your injection technique, you'll find it only takes a minute or two
and can be done almost anywhere. Insulin pens are light, easy to carry
You don't need to keep the insulin you are using in the fridge all the time, but try to store it between 2°C and 8°C (35°F and 47°F). Your disposable pen or insulin cartridge will last four weeks at room temperature (not above 30°C) or fridge (2°C to 8°C). Just don’t leave it in a car or anywhere it could get too hot or cold.
Taking insulin can help you manage your blood sugar levels, but the benefits don't stop there. Better blood sugar control can, in turn, have a positive effect on how you feel, your mood, your ability to concentrate and your energy levels.
High blood sugar, also known as hyperglycaemia – or a 'hyper' – can
make you to feel unwell. Knowing the warning signs (thirst, hunger,
excessive urination) and how to deal with them is the best way to
Another benefit of being on insulin treatment is that it helps you get more control over blood sugar highs and lows. If you keep experiencing hypos or hypers, your healthcare professional will be able to help you adjust your dose.
People often put on weight when they start insulin treatment,
although the amount gained differs from person to person. Some people
do not put on any weight at all. Why does this happen?
When your diabetes is not well controlled, excess blood sugar is flushed out in your urine. Starting on insulin treatment improves your body's ability to absorb glucose from the food you eat, and what you don't use for energy gets stored as fat. This means you may put on weight, even if you eat the same amount as before. You may also gain weight if you snack more to avoid hypoglycaemia.