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5 Tips for Transitioning From Oral Diabetes Therapies to Injectables

  • Your diabetes treatment may change over time.
    Many patients with diabetes require changes in their regimen as time goes on. At some point your doctor may recommend an injectable therapy. If so, these 5 tips will help get you on a path towards great control.

  • 1. Don’t let fear control you.
    Reluctance and fear are normal reactions to your doctor advising it’s time to begin insulin or a non-insulin injectable. You may be scared the shots will hurt. Insulin needles today are smaller, finer and sharper than in the past. This means injections hurt much less. Insulin pens are extremely accurate, inconspicuous and your dosage can be dialed up rather than having to pull the correct amount from the syringe. You can even inject insulin through clothes if you are out in public and you don’t want to pull up your shirt to inject directly into the skin. Being scared is a normal reaction. The key is not to let the fear overcome you.

  • 2. Understand hypoglycemia.
    Hypoglycemia, also referred to as an insulin reaction or low blood sugar, occurs in 3 different situations: 1) You take too much insulin; 2) You don’t eat enough; 3) You exercise too much. Symptoms of hypoglycemia may include feeling tired, dizziness, shakiness, and sweating. If you experience these symptoms you will need to take action to prevent further complications of low blood sugar. You can take fast-acting or simple carbohydrates such as fruits (e.g. bananas, raisins and blueberries), dairy and natural grain products.

  • 3. Ask your doctor about non-insulin injectables.
    There is no one choice that’s right for every diabetic and the choice you and your doctor make today is not a forever decision. Insulin may be appropriate if you have symptoms of poor glucose control such as frequent urination. If you are planning a pregnancy, have frequent infections, or if you are underweight are other reasons your physician may prescribe insulin therapy. Other non-insulin injectables such as glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) may be a better choice if you are overweight and concerned about weight gain, you have concern about hypoglycemia, or if you are older and less likely to develop long term complications.

  • 4. See a diabetes educator.
    A diabetes educator will make managing your diabetes easier by working with you to implement the plan you and your doctor have discussed. They will provide you hands-on support at every step. At your first visit, the diabetes educator will demonstrate the injection technique and show you how easy and painless it can be. He or she will then help you choose a good time and date for your first injection. You will discuss where on the body the injection will occur and how frequently to change the injection site. Diabetic educators also can help provide you with practical solutions to improving your diet and dealing with challenges such as eating out. Also, consider making your first appointment on a Monday so you can communicate with your diabetes educator throughout the week.

  • 5. Ask your doctor lots of questions.
    Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor questions after the decision has been made to transition to injectables. Here are a few to keep in mind: When do I inject? Will I be on a titration schedule where the dose of medication is based on my based on your current blood sugar? What do I do with the needles? How often do I need to test my sugar? What do I do if I forget an injection? What do I do if I experience symptoms of hypoglycemia? Can I drive? What do I do if I get sick? Can I drink alcohol? Is it safe to get pregnant while on injectables?

5 Tips for Transitioning From Oral Diabetes Therapies to Injectables
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THIS CONTENT DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. This content is provided for informational purposes and reflects the opinions of the author. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare professional regarding your health. If you think you may have a medical emergency, contact your doctor immediately or call 911.
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