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Novolin L Side Effects

Generic name: insulin zinc

Note: This document contains side effect information about insulin zinc. Some dosage forms listed on this page may not apply to the brand name Novolin L.

Applies to insulin zinc: subcutaneous suspension.


Know the signs and symptoms of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), which include shaking; nausea; headache; drowsiness; weakness; dizziness; fast heartbeat; sweating; pale, cool skin; anxiety; and difficulty concentrating. Carry a piece of candy or glucose tablets with you to treat episodes of low blood sugar.

Follow any diet and exercise plan that you have developed with your doctor or nurse. Changes in what you eat or how much you exercise can change the amount of insulin that you need to control your blood sugar levels.

Ask your doctor or nurse what to do if you are sick with a cold, flu, or fever. These illnesses may change your insulin requirements.

Do not change the brand of insulin zinc or syringe that you are using without first talking to your doctor or pharmacist. Some brands of insulin and syringes are interchangeable, while others are not. Your doctor and/or pharmacist know which brands can be substituted for one another.

Rarely, people have allergic reactions to insulin. Seek emergency medical attention if you experience an allergic reaction (difficulty breathing; closing of the throat; swelling of the lips, tongue, or face; or hives).

The side effects of insulin therapy result mostly from blood sugar levels that are either too high or too low. You should be familiar with the symptoms of both high and low blood sugar levels and know how to treat both conditions. Also, be sure your family and close friends know how to help you in an emergency.

Low blood sugar may occur when too much insulin is used; when meals are missed or delayed; if you exercise more than usual; during illness, especially with vomiting or diarrhea; if you take other medications; after drinking alcohol; and in other situations.

Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, has the following symptoms: shaking; nausea; headache; drowsiness; weakness; dizziness; fast heartbeat; sweating; pale, cool skin; anxiety; and difficulty concentrating.

Keep sugary candy, fruit juice, or glucose tablets on hand to treat episodes of low blood sugar.

Increased blood sugar may occur if not enough insulin is used, if you eat significantly more food then usual, if you exercise less than usual, if you take other medications, if you have a fever or other illness, and in other situations.

Hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, has the following symptoms: increased thirst, increased hunger, and increased urination.

Monitor your blood sugar levels and ask your doctor how to adjust your insulin doses if your blood sugar levels are too high.

Side effects may also occur at the site of injection. If the area becomes thickened, hard, or pitted, talk to your doctor before injecting at that site again.

Side effects other than those listed here may also occur. Talk to your doctor about any side effect that seems unusual or that is especially bothersome.

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to insulin zinc: subcutaneous suspension.


Endocrine side effects have included hypoglycemia, which has been the most common and serious side effect of insulin, occurring in approximately 16% of type 1 and 10% of type II diabetic patients (the incidence varies greatly depending on the populations studied, types of insulin therapy, etc). Although there are counterregulatory endocrinologic responses to hypoglycemia, some responses are decreased, inefficient, or absent in some patients. Severe hypoglycemia usually presents first as confusion, sweating, or tachycardia, and can result in coma, seizures, cardiac arrhythmias, neurological deficits, and death. Blood or urine glucose monitoring is recommended in patients who are at risk of hypoglycemia or who do not recognize the signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia. The risk for developing hypoglycemia is higher in patients receiving intensive or continuous infusion insulin therapy. The association between insulin and dyslipidemia is currently being evaluated.[Ref]

Permanent neuropsychological impairment has been associated with recurrent episodes of severe hypoglycemia.

In one retrospective study of 600 randomly selected patients with insulin-treated diabetes mellitus, the only reliable predictors of severe hypoglycemia were a history of hypoglycemia, a history of hypoglycemia-related injury or convulsion, and the duration of insulin therapy. Those with a history of hypoglycemia had been treated with insulin for 17.4 years, which was significantly longer than the 14.3 years in the insulin-treated patients without a history of hypoglycemia.

Human insulin does not appear to be associated with hypoglycemic episodes more often than animal insulin. Caution is recommended when switching from animal (either bovine or pork) to purified porcine insulin or biosynthetic human insulin, however, because of increased potency or bioavailability.[Ref]


Ocular side effects have included reports of bilateral presbyopia (blurry vision) during the beginning of therapy. This was thought to be due to changes in the osmotic equilibrium between the lens and the ocular fluids, and was usually self-limited.[Ref]


Dermatologic side effects have included lipohypertrophy (insulin is lipogenic) and lipoatrophy (probably immunologically-mediated). The incidence of lipoatrophy is markedly decreased with the use of purer forms of pork insulin or biosynthetic human insulin and when injection sites are alternated. Without proper hygiene, subcutaneous insulin injections may be complicated by infection.[Ref]


Hypersensitivity side effects have included both local and systemic reactions. There reactions are becoming rare (less than 1% of patients) due to the use of purer forms of pork insulin or biosynthetic human insulin. Local reactions may present as erythema, swelling, heat, or subcutaneous nodules. They usually occur within the first two weeks of therapy, then disappear. True allergy to insulin is rare, and sensitization is usually associated with specific animal proteins in bovine and less pure forms of porcine insulins.[Ref]

A diabetic patient with true allergy to insulin can undergo desensitization. Desensitization kits and protocols are available from some insulin manufacturers.[Ref]


Immunologic side effects have included the formation of anti-insulin antibodies. particularly when animal insulin formulations were used. The presence of these antibodies causes the elimination half-life of insulin to increase.[Ref]

Immunologic analysis of anaphylaxis to some insulin preparations in some cases has revealed markedly elevated serum levels of lgE and lgG to protamine, but not to regular insulin.[Ref]


Other cardiovascular risk factors that are accentuated in persons with carbohydrate intolerance and hypertension include abnormalities in platelet function, clotting factors, the fibrinolytic system, and dyslipidemia. The relationship between diabetes, insulin, and these disorders is currently under investigation.

Insulin may contribute to the pathogenesis of hypertension by stimulating the sympathetic nervous system, promoting renal sodium retention, and/or stimulating vascular smooth muscle hypertrophy. It may induce dyslipidemia by promoting hepatic synthesis of very low density lipoproteins (VLDLs).

Insulin may stimulate heart rate in the absence of hypoglycemia.[Ref]

Cardiovascular side effects have included hyperinsulinemia. Given the high frequency of both microvascular and macrovascular diseases in patients with diabetes, some experts are evaluating insulin as a possible atherogenic agent. Controversy and continued study surround the role of hyperinsulinemia as the precursor of hypertension.[Ref]


General side effects have included weight gain, sometimes presenting as edema associated with abrupt restoration of glucose control in a patient whose control was previously poor. Weight gain may be due to more efficient use of calories during insulin therapy, suggesting additional benefits of dietary and exercise modifications. Patients on intensive insulin therapy may be more likely to experience weight gain.[Ref]

Intensive insulin therapy causes an increase in body fat as a result of the elimination of glycosuria and reduction in 24-hour energy expenditure. The reduction in 24-h energy expenditure is the result of an insulin-associated decrease in triglyceride/free fatty acid cycling and nonoxidative glucose and protein metabolism.[Ref]


Metabolic side effects have included reports of hypokalemia and hypomagnesemia, particularly important in patients who are being treated for diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). Insulin increases the intracellular transport of phosphate, which often results in hypophosphatemia during treatment of DKA.[Ref]

Rare cases of hypophosphatemia have been associated with the use of glucose, insulin, and potassium infusions during the treatment of myocardial infarction.[Ref]


Hypoglycemia is associated with increased plasma dopamine, epinephrine, and plasma renin activity. Acute changes in renal function during insulin-induced hypoglycemia, therefore, may result from direct stimulation of the efferent sympathetic nerves to the kidney and hormonal counterregulatory mechanisms.[Ref]

Renal side effects have included reports of significantly decreased renal plasma flow and glomerular filtration rate, and significantly increased urinary albumin excretion rate from insulin-induced hypoglycemia include. These changes were usually reversible upon resolution of hypoglycemia.[Ref]


The effects of insulin-induced hypoglycemia on hemostasis may explain some of the clinical observations of embolic phenomenon during treatment of diabetic ketoacidosis.

Limited data show that diabetics have a significantly lower basal concentration of tissue plasminogen activator.[Ref]

Hematologic side effect have included an increase in the concentration of von Willebrand factor due to insulin-induced hypoglycemia. Increased von Willebrand factor, combined with hypoglycemia-associated decreased plasma volume and increased plasma viscosity, may predispose patients to reduced peripheral perfusion or embolic phenomenon. A single case of insulin-induced hemolytic anemia has been reported.[Ref]


Gastrointestinal have been reported rarely. GI distress tends to resolve with dose reduction.[Ref]

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Further information

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Some side effects may not be reported. You may report them to the FDA.