Injecting insulin

Around 90% of people with type 1 in the UK inject their insulin through multiple daily injections

Treating insulin

There are two main types of ‘regime’ – a basal-bolus regime or a mix regime.

Basal-Bolus Regime

The vast majority of people who are injecting insulin follow a basal-bolus regime. Basal-bolus is the term often used to describe a regime that involves taking two different types of insulin via multiple daily injections. A basal-bolus regime involves taking a long-acting form of insulin once or twice a day to keep blood glucose levels stable when you are not eating. This is known as the ‘basal’ injection.

It also includes taking a rapid-acting insulin before each meal to prevent rises in blood glucose levels resulting from eating carbohydrates or to correct elevated blood glucose levels between meals. This is known as the ‘bolus’ injection.

One of the main advantages of a basal-bolus regimen is that it attempts to mimic how the body releases insulin in people who do not have type 1. It also allows for flexibility around what is eaten and when. However, it usually involves taking between four and eight injections a day.

Mix Regime

A ‘mix’, ‘biphasic’ or ‘twice daily’ insulin regime involves injecting a mixture of a short-acting insulin and intermediate-acting insulin twice a day – before breakfast and before dinner.

The regime means having fewer injections, but less flexibility. The regime only works for people who have three regular meals of the same carbohydrate content and at similar times every day, as well as snacks mid morning and before bed.

Cartridges vs Disposables

Insulin pens can be reusable pens, where you replace a cartridge in the pen when the insulin runs out; or pre-filled disposable pens, where you simply take out a new pen when your old one runs out.

Needles

The needles used to deliver insulin injections have dramatically reduced in size. Most people with type 1 diabetes use needles that are 4mm, 5mm or 6mm long but they come in sizes up to 12mm. The thickness of needles also varies. It is important to try different sizes to see which needle is most comfortable for you.