Diabetes Home > Insulin Warnings and Precautions

To help ensure a safe treatment process, warnings and precautions with insulin should be discussed with your healthcare provider or pharmacist. Even though some forms of insulin are available without a prescription, they should only be used with your healthcare provider's approval and supervision. You may not be able to safely use insulin if you have vision or manual dexterity problems, or kidney or liver disease.

What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider Before Taking Insulin?

Talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking insulin if you have:
  • Vision or manual dexterity problems
  • Kidney disease, such as kidney failure (renal failure)
  • Liver disease, such as liver failure, cirrhosis, or hepatitis
  • Any allergies, including allergies to foods, dyes, or preservatives.
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
  • Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
  • Breastfeeding.
Make sure to tell your healthcare provider about any other medications you are taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Specific Warnings and Precautions

Some of the warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to taking insulin include the following:
  • Low blood sugar levels are the most common and most serious side effect of insulin. Make sure you and those around you know how to identify the warning signs for low blood sugar and how to respond. You must test your blood sugar levels regularly while taking insulin or any other insulin. Low blood sugar levels can be a life-threatening problem.
  • People with vision or manual dexterity problems may need help with using insulin. Difficulties with testing blood sugar levels, measuring an insulin dose, and giving an injection will need to be overcome.
  • Liver and kidney problems may affect your insulin dosage. Also, changes in diet or exercise, illness, or stress may affect your blood sugar levels in such a way that your dosage needs to be adjusted.
  • Make sure your healthcare provider shows you exactly how to inject insulin, how to store the drug, and how to dispose of your used needles.
  • Even though some forms of insulin are available without a prescription, insulin should only be used with your healthcare provider's approval and supervision. Using this medication inappropriately can be lethal.
  • This diabetes medication can potentially interact with several other medications (see Insulin Drug Interactions).
  • Insulin is considered a pregnancy Category B or C medication (depending on the particular type of insulin). This means that it is most likely safe for use during pregnancy (Category B) or that it might not be safe for use during pregnancy (Category C) (see Insulin and Pregnancy for more information).
  • It is not known if insulin passes through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start breastfeeding, discuss this with your healthcare provider prior to taking the drug (see Insulin and Breastfeeding).
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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