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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Overview of insulin

Tirohanga whānui ki te taiaki huka

Woman's hands holding an insulin pen and adjusting the dialInsulin is a hormone you make in your pancreas, which is a gland just below your stomach. It helps your body use the energy from glucose (sugar) by moving it out of your blood and into your muscle and fat cells.

People with type 1 diabetes and some people with type 2 diabetes need insulin injections. You might use a syringe, insulin pen or insulin pump.

There are different types of insulin. These include short‑acting, intermediate‑acting, long‑acting and some mixtures of these. Your general practice team or diabetes specialist will prescribe the type and dose of insulin that is best for you. They will adjust this to get your blood glucose to the right levels.

You'll learn how to adjust your own insulin as you self‑test and change your physical activity or what you eat. You may also need to change your insulin if you get sick or get pregnant.

Most people inject into their stomach, which absorbs insulin well. It's normal to feel anxious about needing to self‑inject insulin. Most people find using insulin is easier and less painful than they expected. Talk to your general practice team or diabetes clinical nurse specialist if you have concerns.

On the next page: Injecting insulin

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed November 2022.


Page reference: 609558

Review key: HIDIA-21832