Short-acting insulin (Injection)
Treats diabetes mellitus. Insulin is a hormone that helps get sugar from the blood to the muscles, where it is used for energy. This kind of insulin is often called "regular insulin."
There may be other brand names for this medicine.
When This Medicine Should Not Be Used
Talk with your doctor if you have had an allergic reaction to any type of insulin.
How to Use This Medicine
- Your doctor will prescribe your exact dose and tell you how often it should be given. This medicine is given as a shot under your skin.
- This insulin usually starts to work about 30 minutes to 1 hour after it has been injected. The strongest effects are from about 2 hours after the injection until about 4 hours after the injection. This insulin may keep working for as long as 3 to 6 hours after the injection, but it slowly works less and less. The way this insulin works for you might be different. You and your health caregiver must work together to know the best times for you to use your insulin.
- You will be taught how to give your medicine at home. Make sure you understand all instructions before giving yourself an injection. Do not use more insulin or use it more often than your doctor tells you.
- There are many different devices available for giving an insulin injection. You may be taught how to use a regular syringe, an insulin pump, a FlexPen®, or some other device. Each device has special instructions that you must follow. Make sure you understand all the instructions for your device before you use it.
- Know what your usual kind of insulin should look like. Before every injection, look at the insulin to make sure it still looks the same. Most insulin should not be used if it has changed color or looks too cloudy or thick, or has solid particles in it.
- You will be shown the body areas where this shot can be given. Use a different body area each time you give yourself a shot. Keep track of where you give each shot to make sure you rotate body areas.
- Use only syringes that are specially made for insulin. It is best to always use the same brand and type of syringe. Some types of insulin must be used with a certain type of syringe. Ask your pharmacist if you are not sure which one to use.
- Use a new needle and syringe each time you inject your medicine.Some people might be able to use special reusable needles or syringes. Your health caregiver must teach you how to reuse needles or syringes before you give yourself an injection.
- Do not change the brand or type of your insulin unless your health caregiver tells you to. If you must change the brand or type, get advice from your health caregiver before giving yourself an injection.
- Do not mix one kind of insulin with another kind or with water, unless your health caregiver has told you to. Never mix Lantus® (insulin glargine) with any other insulin.
- Carefully follow your doctor's instructions about any special diet.Your doctor may suggest that you follow an exercise program. You may also be taught to check your own blood sugar levels at home. Diet, exercise, medicine, and checking your blood sugar are all important to control your diabetes.
If a dose is missed:
- Call your doctor or pharmacist for instructions.
How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine
- Store unopened insulin in the refrigerator. Do not freeze. If you cannot refrigerate the insulin you will use for the day, keep it in a cool place away from heat and light. Do not use insulin that has been frozen or overheated. Follow any special storage instructions that come with your specific brand of insulin.
- Do not use insulin if it is past the expiration date stamped on the bottle.
- Throw away used needles in a hard, closed container that the needles cannot poke through. Keep this container away from children and pets.
- Ask your pharmacist, doctor, or health caregiver about the best way to dispose of any outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
- Keep all medicine out of the reach of children. Never 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.
- Some medicines can make it harder for you to control your diabetes. Make sure your doctor knows about all other medicines you are using.
- Tell your doctor if you are also using a beta blocker such as atenolol (Tenormin®), metoprolol (Lopressor®), propranolol (Inderal®). These medicines could mask the symptoms of hypoglycemia.
Warnings While Using This Medicine
- Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant. Make sure your doctor knows if you have kidney disease or liver disease.
- Because this insulin starts to work faster than some other types of insulin, the effects do not last as long. Your doctor may also prescribe a longer-acting insulin for you to use.
- You may sometimes have low blood sugar while you are using insulin. This is more likely if you miss a meal, exercise for a long time, or drink alcohol. If you have low blood sugar, you may feel very hungry, drowsy, confused, or chilled. You might sweat or vomit, or you might have a fast heartbeat, vision changes, or a headache that will not go away.
- 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 how to help you in case you have low blood sugar.
- Your correct insulin dose may change slightly with changes in your diet or activity. Your dose needs may also change if you are ill (especially with vomiting or diarrhea), pregnant, traveling, using a new medicine, or exercising more or less than usual. Follow your health caregiver's instructions about changes in your insulin dose.
- Measure each dose of Humulin® R U-500 very carefully. "U-500" means there is more insulin in each milliliter of liquid than there is in most other brands (U-100). A mistake in measuring U-500 can have more serious results than a mistake in measuring U-100.
Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine
Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:
- Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing.
- Increased thirst, loss of appetite.
- Unusual tiredness, breath that smells fruity, warmth or redness in your face, neck, arms, or upper chest.
If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:
- Redness, itching, swelling, or skin changes where the shot is given.
- Last Reviewed on 06/12/2013
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This page was last updated: June 18, 2013