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The European Medicines Agency recently approved Abasria, a "new" form of long-lasting insulin that can be used by children and adults with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. But new understanding how to use insulin may be more valuable than a new product.
- Don't inject insulin into the exact location every day. The skin and tissues underlying it can develop an "allergy" to insulin that creates inflammation and thickening of the skin that reduces the blood sugar control you get from your shot. Inject in different locations and don't inject into the same site more often than once every 2 weeks.
- Don't inject more than 7 to 10 units of insulin at a time. If you have to take 20, 30, 40 or more units to control your blood sugars, inject 7 to 10 units in one site, remove the needle, inject another 7 to 10 units in another location, remove the needle, inject a third 7 to 10 units into a third location, and so on. This reduces autoimmune reactions to insulin and allergies to chemicals acting to the insulin and gets more insulin into your bloodstream, where it is needed.
- Let your skin meet the needle, don't jab the needle into your skin. Hold the syringe with one hand while you depress your skin with the other. Release your skin so it springs into the needle, and then press on the plunger to release insulin. This keeps the shot from hurting, and reduces the risk of hitting a vein and getting too much insulin into your bloodstream too fast.
- Follow your diabetes diet so you don't have to use as much insulin. Small inputs result in small errors. You are less likely to have to deal with hypoglycemia (low blood sugars) or hyperglycemia (high blood sugars) if you eat less and use less insulin. And since insulin also regulates how your fat cells store fat, locking it inside them, or release fat for your muscles to burn, the less insulin you have to take, the easier it will be for you to maintain your weight or lose weight.
- When you use the "cheap stuff" you buy at Costco or Walmart without a prescription because your prescription insulin has run out and your insurance company will not let you have more, be sure to measure your blood sugar levels several times a day. Different brands of insulin contain different chemicals in trace amounts, and lower blood sugars at slightly different rates.
- The secret to successful use of insulin testing your blood sugar levels several times a day. Generic, low-cost test strips really aren't as accurate as prescription brands, but if you compare the numbers your get at home with the numbers you are given at your doctor's office you can tell whether your strips run low (as they usually do, since there would be greater legal liability to the company makes the strips for undetected hypoglycemia) or low. Ideally, every time you use insulin, you should test your blood sugar levels 2 or 3 hours later, and adjust insulin or food intake accordingly.
- Insulin is the only medication for diabetes that always works--if you use enough. But if you start taking other medications, be aware that you need to do all your prescribed testing to make sure your blood glucose levels don't run too low.