Insulin enters the bloodstream faster from some areas of the body than from others, and experts now tell us that WHERE you take your shot can affect your blood sugar levels.
Generally, insulin enters the blood:
- Fastest from the abdomen (stomach area)
- Slower from the arms
- More slowly from the legs
- Slowest from the buttocks.
Exercising speeds up the amount of time it takes insulin to enter your blood, so your injection site will depend on how quickly or slowly you prefer. For example, if you plan to eat right after taking your shot (in a hurry,etc.), you want to use a site on your stomach. Then the insulin is available faster to handle the after-meal rise in your blood sugar. If you will be exercising, you won’t want to take your shot in your leg or arm, because exercising those areas quickens the amount of time for the insulin to enter your bloodstream. This can cause your blood sugar to drop suddenly during or right after your exercise.
Guidelines for choosing the site of your insulin shot:
- Be consistent. Always take fast-acting insulin in the stomach or arm. Take slower-acting insulin in the leg or buttocks.
- Avoid using the exact spot you last used. Space your next shot an inch or more from your last shot. If you use the same place repeatedly, you can build up scar tissue that will make it harder for insulin to enter the bloodstream. (Some people pick an area and rotate around it, like a small clock.)
- Keep a record of which site you used.
Ask your doctor or healthcare team member to help you plan the best places to take your insulin shots based on your lifestyle and insulin needs.
The manufacturer of Lantus® suggests:
- Administer the insulin into the less sensitive layer of fatty tissue just under the skin; DO NOT administer it into the muscle.
- Avoid moles or scars.
- For abdomen shots, avoid a two-inch circle around the navel.
- For thighs, avoid the bony area above the knee.
- For upper arms, use the fatty tissue in the outer back area of the upper arm.
Other experts suggest this procedure for insulin-dependent diabetics who take three shots of Humalog® or a similar type of insulin daily:
- Morning shot in the back upper arm area,
- Noon shot in the outer thigh area, and
- Evening shot in the abdomen area.
Above all, follow your doctor’s direction.
Sources: Group Health Cooperative (www.ghc.org), article by David McCulloch, M.D., “Choosing Best Body Site for an Insulin Shot”; Lantus® (www.sanofi-aventis.us), “Choosing an Injection Site.”