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You are here : 3-RX.com > Drugs & Medications > Quick Drug Information (DrugNotes) > Insulin (Injection)

Insulin (Injection)

Treats diabetes mellitus (sugar diabetes). Insulin is a hormone that helps get sugar from the blood to the muscles, where it is used for energy.

Brand Name(s):

Humulin N, Lantus, Humalog, Humulin R, Novolin N, Humulin L, Novolin R, Humulin U, Novolin N Penfill, Novolin R Penfill, Relion/Novolin R, Novolin R Innolet, Humulin R U-500, Novolin L, Humulin N Pen
There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used:

Talk with your doctor before using this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to any type of insulin.

How to Use This Medicine:


  • Your doctor will tell you how much medicine to use and how often. Do not change the brand or dose of your insulin unless your doctor tells you to.
  • A doctor, nurse, or pharmacist should teach you how to give yourself insulin shots. Make sure you understand how to use the medicine and give yourself the shots.
  • You will get the medicine in a shot given just under your skin. Your health caregiver will tell you what areas on your body to give the shot. Choose a different place on your body, as you have been taught, each time you inject your insulin.
  • Use only syringes that are specially made for giving insulin injections. Use a new syringe each time you give yourself insulin.
  • If you are mixing a clear and cloudy insulin in the same syringe, always draw up the clear insulin first. Then draw up the cloudy insulin.
  • Always wipe the top of the insulin bottle with an alcohol pad before each use.
  • Mix the insulin by gently rolling the bottle between the palms of your hands. Do not shake the bottle.
  • Stick the needle into the rubber stopper at the top of the insulin bottle. With the needle still stuck in the bottle, turn the bottle upside down and hold it at eye level.
  • Pull the plunger until it lines up with the number of your dose on the side of the syringe.
  • Look for air bubbles inside the syringe. Gently tap the syringe with your finger to make any air bubbles float to the top of the syringe, just under the needle. Push the plunger just enough so that the air bubbles go up into the insulin bottle, and pull enough insulin back down into the syringe to make the correct dose.
  • You should not use the insulin if it looks grainy, lumpy, or discolored. Do not use insulin that is unusually thick or sticky.
  • Do not mix one kind of insulin with another kind or with water, unless your health caregiver has said it is okay. Do not mix Lantus® (insulin glargine) with any other insulin or with water.

If a dose is missed:

  • Ask your doctor what to do if you miss a dose of insulin.
How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine:

  • Insulin should be kept in the refrigerator. Do not freeze. The expiration date on the insulin bottle tells you how long you can keep the medicine in the refrigerator. Insulin should be thrown away after the expiration date has passed.
  • Insulin bottles may be kept at room temperature in a cool place, but for only 1 month. Throw the medicine away after 1 month. Keep the insulin away from heat or sunlight.
  • Throw your used needles away in a hard, tightly closed container that the needles cannot stick through. Keep the container out of the reach of children or pets.
  • Do not share your needles, syringes, or medicine with anyone else.
Drugs and Foods to Avoid:

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

Warnings While Using This Medicine:

  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant.
  • Follow the special diet and use the correct dose of insulin that your doctor orders. Your health caregiver can also help you start an exercise program. You may also have to learn to check your own blood sugar. If you have questions about how to check your blood sugar, ask your doctor or nurse. Diet, exercise, medicine, and checking your blood sugar are important to control your diabetes.
  • You may have low blood sugar while you are using insulin, especially if you miss a meal, exercise for a long time, or drink alcohol. Symptoms of low blood sugar include sweating, feeling very hungry, a fast heartbeat, vision changes, drowsiness, confusion, persistent headache, chills, or vomiting.
  • Ask your doctor what to do if you have low blood sugar. You will need to control it quickly. Teach your friends, co-workers, or family members what they can do to help you in case you have low blood sugar.
Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine:

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Seizures (convulsions)
  • Fainting

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Red or swollen skin where the shot is given
If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor.

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