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What is Novolog Insulin Used For And Its Side Effects?

What is Novolog Insulin Used For And Its Side Effects?

All the body cells require energy to function. After food consumption, carbohydrates are converted into glucose. As this happens, the beta cells located in the pancreas produce insulin hormone. Insulin is crucial in metabolism as it enables the sugars to move from the blood and into the cells. Without it or if it is inadequate, the body doesn’t function properly as the sugar levels accumulate in the bloodstream leading to diabetes. Diabetes can affect anyone, regardless of age, color or religion, although individuals with a close relative with the condition are at a higher risk of developing it. High cholesterol, obesity, unhealthy diet, high blood pressure and physical inactivity are risk factors which may lead to diabetes. Additionally, pregnant women with gestational diabetes may experience full-blown diabetes at some point in life. If left untreated, diabetes can lead to fatal complications, but thanks to medications such as Novolog, which helps patient with diabetes manage the condition and slow down possible complications. Novolog is an effective drug, although the person using it is at risk of its side effects.

How Does Novolog Work?

You may hear the diabetes team management refer to Novolog by a few other names such as analog insulin, since its synthetic insulin which almost resembles the natural insulin released by the body. Additionally, it’s taken at mealtime, hence the name bolus or mealtime insulin. It works by helping move glucose from the bloodstream to different areas of the body and preventing the liver from releasing more glucose. The drug contains insulin aspart as the active ingredient and its fast-acting insulin, which starts working about 15 minutes after taking the shot since it lowers glucose levels quickly. It gets to its peak after one hour and it’s active for two to four hours. However, this isn’t applicable to everyone (this medication may not be absorbed into the bloodstream rapidly). Thus, the best thing is to take the shot and observe how fast the medication will get into the bloodstream, the time when the medicine will get to its peak and the duration it will remain active in controlling the blood sugar levels. The following are factors which may make Novolog differ from what is considered normal it terms of onset, peak, and duration:

  • The thickness of the bottom layer of the skin at the injection spot
  • Temperature
  • Blood flow
  • Exercise
  • The dose of the medicine

As the drug is given through injection, the nurse will take you through training on how to give the Novolog shot. The beauty about this medication is that it comes with a flex pen making it easier to self-administer the shot. Handle the flex pen with care and don’t drop it since it may be destroyed. Wipe the outside of the flex pen using a damp cloth if you wish to clean it but avoid soaking or washing it. However, expect to be faced with side effects of Novolog in the course of its use. The medicine can be used in combination with long-acting insulin or intermediate acting insulin.

The doctor can also prescribe Novolog 70/30 which is a pre- mixed insulin containing a long-acting and rapid-acting insulin; in this case, it’s a combination of 30 percent of insulin aspart and 70 percent of insulin aspart protamine). Why use mix 70/30? It may be used if one have just started the insulin therapy and its injected 15 minutes prior a meal or after starting the meal, but this type of drug can lead to negative effects which are the same to Novolog insulin side effects.

Novolog Side Effects

Along with its  desired effects, one may be faced with its negative effects. If they happen, they may require medical intervention, though others will clear on their own after some days or weeks. The following undesired effects are the most common and they are mild, in case the effects don’t resolve after some time or become severe, seek medical intention:

  • Weight gain
  • Redness, swelling, itching or pain at the injection area
  • Changes in the feel of the skin
  • Constipation

For the severe unwanted effects of Novolog flex pen, medical intervention should be sought right away and they include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Fast heart rate
  • Muscle cramps
  • Sweating
  • Weakness
  • Abnormal heart rate
  • Too much weight gain within a short time
  • Swelling of the hands, arms, feet, ankles and lower legs

Remember to inform the medical care provider of all the medications you are on, be it supplements, vitamins, recreational, prescription and non-prescription drug since possible drug interaction can happen, worsening the side effects of Novolog mix 70/30, for example, alcohol or taking an overdose of Novolog shot can trigger low blood sugar. When the glucose levels are very low insulin shock can occur.

Insulin shock

It is a serious medical condition which calls for prompt medical intervention. It is a fatal situation in which blood sugar levels drop to dangerous extreme levels, consequently, unconsciousness and shock may be the end result. If treatment is not given immediately, organs and tissues may be damaged. Please take note that glucose is the main source of energy, regulated by insulin hormone. In a healthy individual, sugar levels range between 83 mg/dl to 100mg/dl. For a diabetic patient, blood glucose levels may drop drastically and one experience the symptoms of low blood sugar, the levels decrease to 60mg/dl and eventually below range, and early signs include:

  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Shaking

It’s important to note that some people have low blood sugar levels by nature since their pancreas release more insulin, therefore, they have to eat a number of times throughout the day to regulate the sugar levels. Others develop it in the course of the treatment due to too much insulin, leading to a significant drop in the glucose levels as the body tries to find a source of fuel in response to excess insulin in the body. Who is at risk of insulin shock? A diabetic patient is at risk of this fatal condition, but especially the ones who depend on insulin injections throughout the day before, after meals and between meals due to lack of insulin or little insulin if any. If the body receives excess insulin, after an injection, your body can encounter an insulin shock. It may happen quickly, even within 15 minutes after a Novolog shot or any other rapid acting insulin. Insulin shock can take place hours later if one is on intermediate or long-acting insulin.

Apart from the symptoms listed above, other signs of insulin shock are a headache, extreme hunger as well as being unaware of the surroundings. The signs may become more severe, leading to shock; the skin becomes pale, seizure, extreme weakness, slurred speech and finally the patient passes out.

The treatments for insulin shock is taking a sugary snack, however, if the patient can’t swallow or is unconscious, seek emergency help and diabetes team will administer glucose directly into the bloodstream. If the patient stops breathing or experienced cardiac arrest, the patient is treated with CPR methods. If their efforts are futile, a patient gets into a coma, major organs shut down and eventually, the patient dies.

In Conclusion

To prevent complication linked to diabetes, follow the dose strictly and if you experience Novolog side effects, contact the diabetic management team.


Disclaimer: Please note that the contents of this community article are strictly for informational purposes and should not be considered as medical advice. This article, and other community articles, are not written or reviewed for medical validity by Canadian Insulin or its staff. All views and opinions expressed by the contributing authors are not endorsed by Canadian Insulin. Always consult a medical professional for medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment.
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