How To Ensure Safe Use of Insulin

By Subodh / March 30, 2016

Insulin is a lifesaver for those who are suffering from diabetes. But using it the wrong way or excessive use of insulin could prove to be life threatening. Studies reveal that an overdose of this anti-diabetic drug could lead to a massive dip in the blood sugar levels, eventually leading to fainting, seizure, coma, or death. So, how can you make sure that insulin is used safely?

Before we get into that part, let us take a quick look at what is insulin and how exactly does it work.

What Is Insulin?

Insulin

Insulin is a hormone synthesized by the pancreas that helps in normalizing the levels of blood glucose. A deficiency or absence of insulin prevents the transformation of glucose into energy. There are times when the immune system destroys the pancreatic cells that produce this hormone, paving way to the onset of Type 1 Diabetes. The pancreas of people with Type 2 Diabetes synthesizes insulin, but their body cells fail to use the hormone, thus triggering insulin resistance.

In the former case, people are injected with Insulin to help in regulating the levels of glucose in blood.

[ Read: How Diet Food For Diabetes Can Help Your Health ]

Tips For Safe Use of Insulin

Storing The Insulin

  1. Always store your insulin away from the sun as well as from extremely cold temperatures.
  2. Store the drug in an insulated case when you are outdoors.
  3. Never freeze your insulin. Throw away the drug if the drug has been frozen.
  4. Store your insulin in your cabin luggage while travelling by air.
  5. Always make sure that you have a week’s dose with you handy while travelling.
  6. Check with your physician about adjusting the dose of your insulin if you are travelling across time zones.
  7. Insulate the insulin in ice packs while travelling by road or train.
  8. Always make sure you have your prescription with you.

Tips For Insulin Users

  1. There are people who will be on the long-acting insulin and rapid-acting insulin. If you are using two insulin drugs, make sure you label them separately and store them in such a way that you do not end up mixing them.
  2. Keep the syringes separate for both the insulin doses, marking them clearly using a pen or marker so that they are easily identified.
  3. Always set an alarm about your dosage timing, if you are a person who is very busy.
  4. Keep your insulin doses handy.
  5. If you have multiple doses a day, keep the number of syringes as required.
  6. Never try to skip a dose, especially your long acting insulin that you take before bedtime as it could trigger a huge surge in the glucose levels the next day.
  7. Keep your insulin refrigerated, but not in your freezer.

Tips For Doctors And Pharmacies

female doctor

There are times when the errors arise due to mistakes made by the doctors and pharmacies. While these are unintentional, they could be life threatening. Hence it is very essential to carefully scrutinize your prescriptions. There are times when the abbreviations like U, which stands for units, are misread as 0. Let me give an example.
If a doctor prescribes something like this: Insulin – 1U. There are chances that it is misinterpreted as 10, which means the drug dose becomes 10 fold the original dose.
Now, isn’t that really worrisome?

Plus, there are numerous types of insulin drugs available today in the market that could leave the pharmacies and doctors confused. So make sure that your prescription has the same drug you were using earlier. If there is a change in the tradename, check with your doctor and pharmacist to confirm the change.

[ Read: How Yoga Can Help Your Diabetes ]

Errors From The Insulin Pumps

Insulin pumps are safer alternatives to syringes and injections as they put an end to forgetting the doses and confusion. But, they come with their own set of problems. You might have to read numerous pages of instructions to understand how they function. And, even after you learn, you should be able to operate it the right way. Many a time, these pumps malfunction.

So along with insulin pumps, keep your insulin injections and syringes handy always, especially while you are travelling so that you will not have a situation where you run out of medication. Also, make sure that you always have an updated prescription with you.

It is advisable to keep your insulin pumps from getting damp. Keep the connecting tubes also way from the dampness as it could obstruct the smooth flow of insulin. Always store your insulin pumps between 1 Degree Celsius and 42 Degree Celsius for its optimal functioning. If you are travelling outside in cold weather, store your insulin inside your warm clothing as close as possible to maintain the temperature levels. If the weather is hot, find out ways to keep your insulin pumps cool.

Other Things That Need To Be Taken Care of While Using Insulin Pumps Are:

  1. Avoid bad sites of infusion
  2. Avoid using the same site repeatedly as it could trigger infection

Accurate and regular monitoring of glucose levels is essential to manage your diabetes effectively. So ensure that you do it while using the drugs carefully and according to the instructions to stay safe and healthy!