Getting started on insulin therapy

Moving on to insulin therapy can seem overwhelming. You may be worried about injections, or even see it as a personal failure. These are quite normal reactions. At the same time it's important to keep in mind that type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease, and switching to a treatment that gives you better control of your health is a success on its own terms.

This section covers some of the common questions and concerns about starting on insulin.


A personal perspective on starting insulin

Meet Gordon. He had uncontrolled type 2 diabetes, but rejected the idea of taking insulin for years. Having started on insulin therapy, he has realised that the only big difference it makes to his daily life is the improvement to his blood glucose levels.


Watch Gordon's story about starting insulin

Will taking insulin interfere with my daily life?

Insulin therapy doesn't have to slow you down. Once you've mastered your injection technique, you'll find it only takes a minute or two and can be done almost anywhere. Insulin pens are light, easy to carry and ultra-discreet.

You don't need to keep the insulin you are using in the fridge all the time, but try to store it between 2°C and 8°C (35°F and 47°F). Your disposable pen or insulin cartridge will last four weeks at room temperature (not above 30°C) or fridge (2°C to 8°C). Just don’t leave it in a car or anywhere it could get too hot or cold.

Get tips on managing type 2 diabetes in daily life

What are the benefits of taking insulin (beyond blood glucose)?

Taking insulin can help you manage your blood glucose levels – but the benefits don't stop there. Better blood glucose control can in turn have a positive effect on how you feel, your mood, your ability to concentrate and your energy levels.



We asked 40 people with type 2 diabetes how they felt before and after starting insulin therapy


What about hypers?

High blood sugar, also known as hyperglycaemia – or a 'hyper' – can also make you to feel unwell. Again, knowing the warning signs (thirst, hunger, excessive urination) and how to deal with them is the best way to overcome anxiety.

Another benefit of being on insulin therapy is that it helps you to get more control over blood glucose highs and lows. If you keep experiencing hypos or hypers, your healthcare professional will be able to help you adjust your dose.

Will I gain weight?

People often put on weight when they start insulin therapy, although the amount gained differs from person to person, and some people do not put on any weight at all. Why does this happen?

When your diabetes is not well controlled, excess blood glucose is flushed out in your urine. Starting on insulin therapy improves your body's ability to absorb glucose from the food you eat, and what you don't use for energy gets stored as fat. This means you may put on weight – even if you eat the same amount as before. You may also gain weight if you snack more to avoid hypoglycaemia.


Tips to avoid weight gain on insulin therapy


  • Take regular exercise
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet
  • Monitor your weight weekly when you start on insulin
  • Monitor your blood glucose so you know you don't have to snack

Help – I'm afraid of needles!

Being on insulin therapy requires daily injections. The good news is that modern needles are tiny, virtually painless, and are usually built into a discreet and convenient pen device. Some devices even have hidden needles. If you are about to start on insulin therapy, we have all the information you need for stress-free injections.

Learn more about our pens, needles and injection support


Use your treatment experiences to help others

At Novo Nordisk, we consider people living with serious chronic diseases to be experts in their own right. That's why we invite them to become members of our Disease Experience Expert Panels (DEEPs). DEEP members are able to provide disease-specific insights and advice based on real-world experiences. This input guides us as we work to develop better treatments and meaningful support for people living with chronic diseases worldwide.


Join a DEEP and share your type 2 experiences


Insulin pumps

Insulin pumps

Insulin pumps are small portable devices that provide your body with mealtime insulin throughout the day. Pumps remove the need for multiple injections, and may offer more flexibility to fit your daily routine.


Learn more about insulin pumps

Living with type 2 diabetes

Living with type 2 diabetes

A type 2 diagnosis doesn't mean you should expect less out of life. But you will need to learn how to manage your blood glucose for different situations and activities so you can stay healthy and active. We have lots of information and resources to help you get started.

Get tips for living well with type 2 diabetes

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