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What does it do?

Insulin isophane is an intermediate-acting insulin used to treat diabetes.

Before you start

  • Tell your doctor if you have liver, kidney or thyroid problems.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding.

How should you use it?

Insulin isophane should be injected into the fatty tissue under the skin (subcutaneously). The abdomen (belly) is usually the best place to inject. Change the injection site regularly so that lumpiness under the skin does not develop.
Insulin isophane is cloudy and should be mixed before using. To do this, gently roll the vial between the palms of your hands or turn the pen upside down 20 times.

What if you forget a dose?

If it is almost time for your next dose of insulin isophane, skip the dose you missed and continue at your normal time. Do not inject two doses at the same time. Otherwise, inject the missed dose as soon as possible. If you are unsure, contact your health professional.

Can you take other medicines?

Tell your pharmacist or doctor about all medicines or treatments that you may be taking, including vitamins, herbal products or recreational drugs.

What side effects might you notice?

Side EffectsRecommended action

Symptoms of allergy including: skin rash, itching, swelling, trouble breathing

Tell your doctor immediately

Low blood sugar (hypo): symptoms may include sweating, trembling, feeling anxious or irritable

Drink or eat something sweet. Tell your health professional if this happens a lot or is severe.

Pain, tenderness or redness at injection site

Tell your health professional if troublesome

If you notice any other effects, discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist.

Other information:

  • If you become ill, change your diet or change your exercise routine your insulin needs will also change. Discuss this with your health professional.
  • Alcohol may alter your blood sugar and insulin needs. Changes in your sugar testing and insulin treatment are needed if drinking alcohol.
  • Test your blood sugar before meals, 2 hours after meals and at bedtime, or as directed.
  • Keep unopened insulin in the fridge. Once you start using it, you can keep it at room temperature for about 4 weeks (check the exact time on the packet for your insulin). After this, take any leftover insulin back to your pharmacy.
  • Wear medical identification (e.g. MedicAlert bracelet) indicating that you have diabetes. Keep extra insulin, needles and something sweet with you at all times.

This leaflet contains important, but not all, information about this medicine.

Prepared by the MyMedicines Committee at Christchurch Hospital, Te Whatu Ora - Waitaha, New Zealand. March 2023

For more general information about this sheet and its contents, see: What does a My Medicines sheet cover?

About My Medicines

My Medicines Patient Information Leaflets (PILs) contain important, but not all, information about the medicines they describe.

For more information about the sheets, see: What does a My Medicines sheet cover?

My Medicines is developed by a team at Te Whatu Ora – Waitaha. Our team is made up of doctors, pharmacists, and a non-medical person to help us keep to plain language. We also discuss our information with specialist health professionals or groups when needed