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Insulin Side Effects

Injection site skin reactions, low blood sugar levels, and high blood sugar levels are potential side effects of insulin. However, the most important side effect to be aware of is low blood sugar levels, as this can cause dangerous and even life-threatening problems. Possible signs of low blood sugar levels can include difficulty speaking, blurry vision, and seizures. Make sure to notify your healthcare provider if you experience any side effects while taking insulin.

An Introduction to Side Effects of Insulin

As with any medicine, insulin can cause side effects. The most important side effect that can occur with insulin is low blood sugar levels, although other problems are also possible. It is important to understand how to recognize and deal with the possible side effects of insulin.
(This article covers many, but not all, of the possible side effects with insulin. Your healthcare provider can discuss a more complete list of insulin side effects with you.)

Possible Insulin Side Effects

Insulin is known to cause a few different side effects, such as:
  • Low blood sugar levels if too much is taken
  • High blood sugar levels if too little is taken
  • Weight gain (see Insulin and Weight Gain)
  • A skin reaction at the site of the injection
  • Skin thickening or pitting at the site of the injection.

Serious Side Effects and Their Warning Signs

Some insulin side effects are potentially serious and should be reported immediately to your healthcare provider. Some of the warning signs of these serious side effects include:
  • Signs of an allergic reaction, such as:


    • An unexplained rash
    • Hives
    • Itching
    • Swelling of the mouth or throat
    • Wheezing or other difficulty breathing 


  • Symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis, caused by prolonged high blood sugar levels (if your dose is too low):


    • Fruity, sweet-smelling breath
    • Increased thirst and urination
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Labored breathing
    • Fever
    • Confusion
    • Unconsciousness 


  • Symptoms of low blood sugar levels, such as:


    • Sweating
    • Dizziness
    • Changes in behavior, such as irritability or mood swings
    • Cold sweats
    • Shakiness
    • Difficulty speaking
    • Loss of coordination
    • Extreme hunger
    • Blurry vision
    • Confusion
    • Seizures
    • Unconsciousness. 


Make sure those around you know how to recognize your particular signs of low blood sugar, as you may be too confused (due to low blood sugar levels) to recognize and adequately respond to low blood sugar. Different people may have different signs of low blood sugar levels.
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