Precautions and Warnings With Regular Insulin
There are many precautions and warnings with regular insulin to be aware of, including potential side effects that may occur. Low blood sugar is the most common (and most serious) side effect of regular insulin, so make sure you know how to identify the warning signs for low blood sugar. Do not take regular insulin if you are allergic to any components of the medication.
Talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking regular insulin (Humulin® R, Novolin® R) if you have:
- Liver disease, such as liver failure, cirrhosis, or hepatitis
- Kidney disease, such as kidney failure (renal failure)
- Any allergies, including allergies to foods, dyes, or preservatives.
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
- Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
Make sure to tell your healthcare provider about any other medications you are taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
Warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to taking regular insulin include the following:
- Even though regular insulin is available without a prescription, it should be used only with your healthcare provider's approval and supervision. Using this medication inappropriately can be lethal.
- U-500 regular insulin is five times as concentrated as standard U-100 regular insulin. Use extreme caution when using this concentrated form of insulin, as small inaccuracies in dosing can easily lead to an overdose (or underdose).
- Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) is the most common (and usually most serious) side effect of insulin medications, including regular 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 regular insulin or any other insulin. Low blood sugar levels can be a life-threatening problem.
- Liver and kidney problems may affect your regular 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 regular insulin, how to store the drug, and how to dispose of your used needles.
- This diabetes medication can potentially interact with several other medications (see Drug Interactions With Regular Insulin).
- Regular insulin is considered a pregnancy Category B medication. This means it is most likely safe for use during pregnancy, although the full risks are not known (see Humulin R and Pregnancy or Novolin R and Pregnancy).
- It is not known if regular insulin passes through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start, discuss this with your healthcare provider prior to taking the drug (see Humulin R and Breastfeeding or Novolin R and Breastfeeding).