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HealthInfo Canterbury

Overview of insulin

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, or insulin pump.

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

You will 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 GP, practice nurse, or diabetes clinic team if you have concerns.

On the next page: How to inject insulin

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed July 2019.

Page reference: 609558

Review key: HIDIA-21832