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Insulin: how, how often and how much?

How is insulin taken?

Insulin can only be injected. Currently, it cannot be given in tablet form, because it would be destroyed in the stomach and would not work.

Insulin works best when it is injected into the fatty layer just below the skin and above the muscle. This is known as the subcutaneous layer. Most people inject it into their tummy, but some people prefer to inject it in their buttocks or thighs instead. Where you inject your insulin can affect how quickly it works. It is also important to inject in a slightly different place each time. Your health care team will be able to teach you how and where to inject your insulin, as well as how to look after your insulin.

You can read more about injecting insulin, insulin storage and sharps disposal in the fact sheet: Insulin.

Insulin-injection devices

Insulin is most commonly injected using an insulin pen device. An insulin pen contains a prefilled insulin cartridge, and you dial up your dose before injecting. Insulin can also be injected using a syringe by drawing up insulin from a vial or bottle.

Many people find using an insulin pen easier and more convenient than syringes. If you have problems with your eyesight or with arthritis in your hands, you may find it easier to use an insulin pen. Each type or brand of insulin has its own type of pen. Talk with your diabetes health professional about what insulin injection device is best for you and how to use it.

“I was surprised when they demonstrated this ultra-fine needle, this pre-loaded pen. It looks like a fountain pen. That was an eye opener.”
Sam, 52 years old

How often will I need to inject insulin?

How often you inject insulin will depend on what type of insulin you are taking. When starting insulin injections, most people with type 2 diabetes will inject once or twice daily.

How much insulin will I need to inject?

It is important to inject the amount of insulin recommended by your doctor. Your doctor will advise you when to change the dose and by how much. This is to make sure that you get the right dose of insulin for you. Everyone is different.

Next: Insulin: what type and what else?

Diabetes Australia acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of this Country. We recognise their connection to land, waters, winds and culture. We pay the upmost respect to them, their cultures and to their Elders, past and present. We are committed to improving health outcomes for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people affected by diabetes and those at risk.

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