How to Initiate Insulin Therapy

How to Initiate Insulin Therapy thumbnail
Diabetics can manage their disease with insulin therapy.

Diabetes mellitus affects how the body uses glucose, or blood sugar. Glucose is the body's primary fuel source. Diabetics have excessive glucose in their blood; insulin lowers blood glucose. Treatment for type 1 diabetes, or insulin-dependent, requires insulin injections, while patients with type 2 diabetes, or non-insulin dependent, will require insulin therapy at some point. However, primary care physicians often delay transitioning from oral diabetes medications to insulin therapy in patients with type 2 diabetes. Starting patients on an insulin regimen isn't difficult. Working together, physicians and patients can develop an effective diabetes treatment plan.

Things You'll Need

  • Blood glucose test meter
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    • 1

      Establish individualized blood glucose target levels. Your physician will follow the guidelines established by the American College of Endocrinology.

    • 2

      Use a blood glucose test meter to self-monitor your blood glucose levels. The American Diabetes Association recommends patients monitor their blood sugar levels three or more times daily.

    • 3

      Track your blood glucose levels. The numbers will show whether your prescription oral diabetes medications are controlling your blood sugar levels. If not, you should begin insulin therapy. You may remain on oral diabetes medications once you begin insulin therapy.

    • 4

      Talk to your physician. You may have a number of fears about beginning insulin therapy. Your physician will teach you how to use insulin and how to calculate and adjust the dosage. Your physician will match your insulin regimen to your individual needs, concerns and capabilities.

    • 5

      Monitor your insulin usage when beginning insulin therapy as directed by your physician. A common starting dosage for insulin therapy is 0.15 units/kg body wt/day. There are several types of insulin, rapid-acting insulin, long-acting insulin and intermediate options. Depending on your needs, your physician may prescribe a combination of insulin medications.

    • 6

      Continue to self-monitor your blood glucose levels once or twice a day. Your physician will use this data to adjust your insulin dosage to meet your blood glucose target levels.

    • 7

      Have a glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test. This test measures the percentage of blood sugar attached to hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells. The American Diabetes Association recommends an A1C level below 7 percent. Ask your physician what your A1C target level is. You should be tested every three months to ensure your diabetes treatment plan is working. An elevated A1C level may signal the need for a change in your insulin regimen.

    • 8

      Change the insulin regimen if you are not at your goal three to six months after beginning insulin therapy.Your physician will base this decision on your blood glucose levels and the the results of your A1C test.

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  • Photo Credit special syringe for insuline injections image by Maria Brzostowska from

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