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What Is Insulin


Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas. Insulin helps remove sugar from your blood and takes it to other parts of your body. This helps lower your blood sugar levels. You may need to take insulin if your pancreas is not making enough. You may also need to take insulin if your body cannot use insulin correctly.


Contact your healthcare provider if:

You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Use insulin safely and check your blood sugar levels:

Some people may need to inject insulin one time each day. Others may need to inject insulin more often. This depends on the type of insulin you use, what you eat, and your activity level. You may also need different amounts of insulin during illness or with certain medicine changes or health conditions.

  • Prepare and give insulin as directed. Always check the label on the bottle to be sure you are using the right insulin. Do not use the same spot on your body each time. Give yourself insulin based on your blood sugar level and directions from your healthcare provider or diabetes specialist. Do not inject insulin within 2 inches of your belly button or into any stretch marks. Do not inject insulin through clothing. This can contaminate the needle and may cause infection.
  • Check your blood sugar level as directed. Some types of insulin can cause your blood sugar level to decrease quickly. Ask your healthcare provider when to check your blood sugar levels during the day. Check it any time you have symptoms of high or low blood sugar levels.
  • Know what your blood sugar levels should be. If you check your blood sugar level before a meal , it should be between 80 and 130 mg/dL. If you check your blood sugar level 1 to 2 hours after a meal , it should be less than 180 mg/dL. Ask your healthcare provider if these are good goals for you.
  • Write down your blood sugar level results. Bring the results to your follow-up appointments. Your healthcare provider may use the results to make changes to your insulin type or dose, eating plan, or exercise plan.

How to store and throw away insulin:

Follow the storage directions on the label or package insert that came with the insulin. Do not use your insulin if there are clumps or color changes. Cloudy insulin that has small, white, particles that will not mix should be thrown away. Clear insulin that looks cloudy should be thrown away.

  • Always check the expiration date on your insulin bottle. Do not use insulin beyond its expiration date.
  • Do not store insulin in the freezer, direct sunlight, or the glove compartment of a car. Throw away insulin that has been frozen or exposed to very warm temperatures (above 85°F).
  • You can store opened or unopened insulin in the refrigerator or at room temperature. If you store your insulin at room temperature, keep it in a cool, dry place.
  • If you travel, keep the insulin in a cool pack. This will help make sure the temperature of the insulin stays below 86°F (30°C). Do not leave insulin in direct sunlight.
  • Always throw away your used needles in a hard-sided container with a lid. Some examples include a metal coffee can or laundry detergent bottle. Always keep your insulin bottles or pens out of the reach of children.

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2021 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.