When Did I Take Insulin?

Tracking insulin injections decreases risk of lows

BennetArticle By Bennet Dunlap

Starting insulin injections can be stressful. Life has a way of making things routine and injecting insulin can become one. In many ways, that is a good thing. Getting into the habit of taking insulin regularly can help keep diabetes in check. As taking insulin becomes routine, it is more difficult to remember. Not remembering how much or when insulin was taken can lead to taking too much and dangerous lows can be the outcome.

Insulin is taken to cover food and correct for high blood sugar. Often people do both at the same time. Insulin takes time to lower blood sugar. If you eat more carbohydrates, more insulin is needed to cover that additional food. The last blood sugar correction may still be working and so an additional correction may not be needed, depending on how recently the correction was taken. A correction on top of a still working correction is called "stacking insulin." Stacking may lead to a risky low blood sugar.

When insulin injections become habit, it is more possible to stack insulin simply as a matter of routine and forgetting when that last injection was. There are tools that can help you remember. 

Understanding safe insulin practices and professional help in choosing the right tools for you life style are critical. Like most issues with diabetes, the most important first step is good education. So talk with your diabetes educator about how to avoid stacking insulin.

Insulin pump users very likely have an algorithm to track insulin on board or IOB. These pump calculations typically reduce suggested insulin doses to account for IOB. Your pump trainer or support team can help you understand the details of how to make the most of insulin on board calculations.

Most people who take insulin do not use pumps. They inject with syringes or pens. Some pens have electronic memory to track the last dose. The NovoPen Echo is one option that is available in the United States. Pens are a more popular choice around the world and more options are available in other countries. These include pens by Lillyand  Timesulin's timer cap that fits onto insulin existing pens. Accu-Chek offers insulin injection patients the Aviva Expert meter that combines blood sugar measurement with the IOB tracking and bolus calculating similar to what is offered in pumps.

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There is technology that can help remember when and how much insulin was injected to help support a successful diabetes management routine. If you think one may help you, start by talking with you care professional to better understand the options available and how they may complement your lifestyle.

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NOTE: The information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.

Last Modified Date: June 18, 2014

All content on dLife.com is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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by Nicole Purcell
I had a bad one last night. A scary low bloodsugar that reminded me just how tenuous diabetes makes my existence. I hate those. I hate the feeling that I'm anything less than a strong, capable woman. Diabetes, like a sledge hammer to the knees, has a way of hobbling the confidence I have in my health, strength and well-being. It is both frustrating and disheartening. It's 2:00 am and a good friend called from their third shift job because they needed someone. Just...