1 What is Levemir?

Brand: Levemir, Levemir Flexpen, Levemir, FlexTouch

Generic: Insulin Detemir

Levemir is a type of insulin that lowers glucose levels in the bloodstream.

It is long-acting insulin that controls blood sugar levels for around 12 hours. Insulin Detemir is a synthetic or man-made insulin.

Doctors use Insulin Detemir to achieve control on blood sugar levels throughout the day. It can be used for type 2 diabetes.

Insulin Detemir is also used to treat type 1 diabetes in adults and children older than 2 years of age.

The doctor may also use Insulin Detemir to treat high blood sugar levels caused by other conditions.

Insulin Detemir is an injectable drug and requires a prescription.

2 What to Know Before Using

Before using Levemir, you must know all about the risks and complications associated with it.

Insulin Detemir is not appropriate and should not be used to treat hyperglycemia or diabetic ketoacidosis. You have to inject another short-acting insulin to lower blood sugar levels.

Talk to your doctor if you experienced allergies to insulins. Insulin Detemir must not be diluted or mixed with other insulins. Do not administer Insulin Detemir using an insulin pump.

Tell all your health problems before using Insulin Detemir. Insulin Detemir must be used with caution in patients with problems in the liver, heart and kidneys.

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding before taking Insulin Detemir. The medication is not expected to harm the baby when taken by pregnant mothers.

However, pregnant mothers may need closer monitoring of blood sugar levels. Do not breastfeed when taking Insulin Detemir.

You may have to avoid alcohol or tobacco before taking Insulin Detemir. These substances can change your blood sugar levels that increase the risk of adverse effects. Talk to your doctor if you are trying to reduce use or quit.

Tell all the medications you take before using Insulin Detemir. Certain medicines may interact with Insulin Detemir and cause undesirable effects.

Some of these medicines include oral antidiabetic medicines, ACE inhibitors and other medicines for the heart, fibrates, Fluoxetine, MAO inhibitors, Aspirin, certain antibiotics, corticosteroids, Niacin, water pills, medicines for asthma and COPD, thyroid hormones, oral contraceptive pills and antipsychotic medications.

Note that certain herbal supplements can also cause changes in blood sugar levels.

3 Proper Usage

To use Levemir properly, you must follow all instructions given by your doctor.

Insulin Detemir is injected under the skin (subcutaneous route). The doctor or a health professional will teach you how to do injections at home and rotate injection sites to avoid skin problems.

The doctor will determine your dose. Take only the dose as prescribed. Insulin Detemir is usually given once or twice a day. If you take it once a day, administer the dose shortly before, after the evening meal, or before bedtime.

If you take it twice a day, take a dose before, after the evening meal, or before bedtime, and then take another dose after 12 hours. Insulin Detemir is a thin, clear and colorless liquid.

Here are simple steps to follow when injecting Insulin Detemir using a needle and syringe.

After inspecting the vial, here are the steps to follow:

  • Open the bottle and wipe the rubber stopper with a cotton ball soaked with alcohol, and then let it dry.
  • On the syringe, withdraw the plunger to the required number of units. Unsheath the needle carefully, push the syringe into the vial and push the plunger all the way and inject air.
  • With one hand, invert the vial with the syringe. Using the other hand, maneuver the needle so the tip is submerged in the liquid and carefully withdraw the required units. Withdraw more medicine and slightly tap the syringe to remove air bubbles. Adjust the plunger to make sure you withdraw the exact amount of insulin.
  • Withdraw the syringe with the medication from the vial.
  • Make sure to rotate injection sites.
  • Clean the injection site by rubbing the area with a cotton ball with alcohol, and then let dry.
  • Gently pinch and raise the skin. With the other hand, inject the needle at a 90-degree angle, making sure that the needle is all the way into the skin.
  • Gently push the plunger to inject insulin, and then quickly pull then needle out.
  • Lightly apply pressure on the injection site with a cotton ball with alcohol. Do not rub the injection site.

Insulin Detemir is also available in an injection pen (FlexPen). Follow instructions carefully in using injection pens. Be on the watch for signs of hypoglycemia, or too low blood sugar levels.

Symptoms of hypoglycemia include hunger, headache, weakness, sweating, tremors, irritability and trouble concentrating. You can relieve hypoglycemia by eating sugary items like crackers, raisins, hard candy or drinking a glass of milk or non-diet soda.

For serious hypoglycemia and you are unable to drink or eat, you need to have glucagon injection. Make sure your family knows how to help you in case hypoglycemia occurs. 

You also need to monitor for symptoms of hyperglycemia. Note that you must not inject Insulin Detemir to relieve hyperglycemia.

Symptoms of hyperglycemia include dry mouth, dry skin, increased urination, hunger, fruity breath odor, drowsiness, blurred vision and weight loss.

Note that surgery, undergoing medical procedures, stress, illness and travel may significantly change your blood sugar levels.

Call your doctor to adjust your dose of Insulin Detemir. Never change your dose of Insulin Detemir without doctor’s supervision.

If you missed a dose of Insulin Detemir, call your doctor right away.

If you took too much Insulin Detemir, you are at risk of having serious hypoglycemia that can be life threatening. Call your doctor or local poison control hotlines and head to the nearest hospital right away.

Store Insulin Detemir in the refrigerator. Do not freeze, expose to light and heat.

4 Precautions to Take

Before using Levemir, there are some precautions you must take.

Always monitor blood sugar levels by regular tests. Only take the prescribed Insulin Detemir dose. Follow these precautions to reduce the risk of adverse effects.

Do not mix Insulin Detemir with other insulins or mix it with diluents. Do not use an insulin pump in administering Insulin Detemir. If you administer other insulins at the same time with Insulin Detemir, inject them separately.

Never share syringes, needles and injection pens used in the administration of Insulin Detemir. Doing so can put you at risk of having blood-borne diseases like HIV infection and hepatitis B.

Inspect the medication first before administration. Do not use Insulin Detemir if the liquid becomes thick, has changed color, has particles or clumps in it.

You will have to inject Insulin Detemir every day. Avoid skin problems by rotating injection sites. Never inject on the same spot twice in a row.

Dispose used needles, syringes, and empty vials properly. You can put them in an enclosed container (like a large bleach bottle) with a cap to seal the contents.

5 Potential Side Effects

As with many medications, there are several potential side effects associated with Levemir.

Call the doctor if you experience the following while using Insulin Detemir:

  • Itching, swelling or redness at the injection site
  • Swelling of the hands or feet
  • Symptoms of low potassium levels, like leg cramps, thirst, fluttering in the chest, uneven heartbeat and muscle weakness
  • Having infections like flu, colds, stuffy nose and sore throat

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