Insulin Myths and Facts

Starting insulin can feel like a big step when you have type 2 diabetes. If you are taking other medications for your diabetes and you are still not reaching your A1C goal, it may be time to talk with your health care provider about insulin.

For a lot of people this can be a tough conversation. Even though millions of people use insulin to treat their diabetes every day, there are many people who still have a bad image of insulin and are afraid of what taking insulin might mean. Most of these fears are based on myths. Here are some common myths about insulin and the true facts about what it means to take insulin and how it can help you.


Myth: Taking insulin means I’ve failed in taking care of my diabetes. I wouldn’t need insulin if I had just taken better care of myself.

Fact: Needing insulin does not mean that you have failed in your diabetes management. Because type 2 diabetes changes over time, after a while your pancreas may not be able to keep up with your body’s need for insulin—no matter what you’ve done to manage your diabetes. When other medicines no longer keep your blood sugar on target, insulin is often the next step.


Myth: Insulin doesn’t really work anyway.

Fact: In fact, insulin is proven to lower your blood sugar! You may think of diabetes as a “sugar” problem, but it’s also an insulin problem. The insulins used today are designed to work like the insulin that the body makes naturally. When you take insulin, you are replacing the insulin your body is no longer making. Your health care provider can talk to you about both the benefits and side effects of insulin.


Myth: Insulin always causes my blood sugar to go too low.

Fact: It is true that insulin can cause low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), which is the most common side effect of all insulins, including NovoLog®. You can work with your diabetes care team to adjust your insulin dose in order to help manage the risk of low blood sugar. It’s important to learn how to prevent, recognize, and treat hypoglycemia (click here to view “Blood Sugar Highs and Lows”). In a medical study, NovoLog® has been shown to have a low rate of low blood sugar.


Myth: Insulin just makes diabetes worse.

Fact: The belief that insulin causes diabetes health issues to worsen often comes from seeing problems that happened to family members or friends with diabetes in the past. It can be hard to get past these fears, but remember diabetes changes over time and better control of your blood sugar levels may help reduce the risk of some diabetes-related problems.


Myth: Insulin always causes a lot of weight gain.

Fact: It is true that some people who start insulin gain weight, but this is not necessarily the case for everyone. If gaining weight is a concern for you, you and your health care provider can adjust your diabetes care plan to include physical activity and weight control. 


Myth: Insulin pens use large needles. 

Fact: NovoLog® FlexPen® uses NovoFine® Plus 32G Tip needles, which are small and thin and were found to be “practically pain-free” in a clinical study.


Myth: Insulin is addictive.

Fact: You cannot get addicted to insulin. Your body makes insulin, which is a naturally occurring hormone. 

However, some people are self-conscious about how taking insulin in public might look. If you are concerned that people who see you take your insulin in a public place might think you are using illegal drugs, ask your health care provider about using an insulin pen, like NovoLog® FlexPen®, rather than a vial and syringe.


Myth: Insulin costs too much. I can’t afford it.

Fact: Diabetes can be expensive to manage. But NovoLog® is covered by most commercial insurance and Medicare plans. To find out how much your NovoLog® will cost you, visit the Co-pay Calculator on this site.

There are ways to save on the cost of your insulin too. Sign up for Cornerstones4Care® to receive an instant savings card. For eligible comercially insured patients, pay as little as $25 for NovoLog® and each refill for up to 2 years. You'll also pay as little as $20 for select other Novo Nordisk products and each refill for up to 2 years. Eligibility and restrictions apply to this offer.


Myth: Taking insulin means I cannot do any of the things I used to do.

Fact: Many people worry that once they start insulin they can no longer be independent, live alone, travel, or eat away from home. Fortunately, none of these have to be true. With planning, there is no reason why you cannot do things you did before. 

For instance, NovoLog® FlexPen® is a prefilled, dial-a-dose insulin pen you can fit into your pocket or purse and take with you. And, NovoLog® lasts up to 28 days without refrigeration after first use, so it can be taken almost anywhere. Once in use, NovoLog® must be kept at room temperature below 86°F for up to 28 days. Learn more about how to store NovoLog® here. NovoLog® also offers adjustable dosing that you can match up to your activity and eating patterns. 

However, if you need help fitting insulin into your life, talk to your health care provider and ask for a referral to a certified diabetes educator who may be able to help.

If you need help talking with your doctor about adding NovoLog® mealtime insulin to your diabetes care plan, you can use our Doctor Discussion Guide to organize your thoughts.

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