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Insulin House Rules: keeping you safe and sound


Fellow Vincies, before I get into some of the nitty gritty about types of insulin etc, we should go over some basic rules about taking insulin in the first place. Some of these apply to other diabetes medications, too, so ALL of you take note. Remember how the air stewardesses give you all the safety information before the plane starts flying? Think of me this week as your friendly stewardess, lovingly guiding with some of these (and for those who don’t listen, a clout may be coming your way):{{more}}

Rule Number 1 – Do not take insulin without checking your blood sugars first.

Okay, I know this one already is causing some vexation and cries of “WHAT?!”

The main limiting factor for this rule tends to be the price of supplies, and unfortunately there are few ways to get around that. But as much as you can, PLEASE do not give yourself insulin without checking your blood sugar first-this is especially true if you are taking a type of insulin that acts quickly. Many people tell me they can “feel” if they are high or low, but this is sometimes not reliable, and you can run yourself into some serious trouble guessing at blood sugars. Following this rule may be the difference between getting into town in your own car versus going in the ambulance…

Rule number 2 – follow the instructions on your medication sheet.

I am not trying to insult you with this one, so forgive me if it sounds ridiculous. But think about it—we make assumptions sometimes about our medications because we assume it is like one we took before, or like our neighbor’s insulin etc. Please remember that not all insulins are alike-some can be mixed with another type, and others not, some need more refrigeration than others. Be sure to always ask your doctor about the particular insulin you take and read the package insert, or talk to your pharmacist about it. Insulin DOES go bad as well, so pay attention to those expiration dates.

Rule Number 3 – don’t stop taking your insulin without discussing this with your doctor.

This also includes making drastic changes to your doses. Now I admit that lots of folks with diabetes are quite capable of making changes to their insulin doses without difficulty, especially those who keep regular checks on their blood sugars and can see patterns themselves. But in general you should be in close contact with your doctor if you think changes need to be made to your regimen, and definitely do not stop taking it entirely without speaking to your doctor.

Rule Number 4 – make no assumptions about insulin, do not be afraid to ask questions.

As much as I think insulin is a wonderful medication, it can be quite dangerous if not used correctly. So I encourage you again not to hold back on questions, especially regarding the use of insulin. If you are uncomfortable with it, ask for help. Don’t take a chance by making guesses!

Okay, enough rules for now. Stay healthy everyone, I’ll see you next week!

Anita Ramsetty, MD
[email protected]
Medical Director Endocrine Care Group
Tel: 843-798-4227