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What happens if you don't take your insulin?

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It’s important to know what happens if someone with type 1 diabetes misses or skips a dose of insulin.

Life is busy. No matter how good you, or the person you care for, is at managing diabetes, there may be times when a dose of insulin is forgotten or skipped. While it may not cause an immediate emergency, it can cause blood glucose levels to increase, especially if it happens often. You should talk with your diabetes care team about what to do if a dose is missed, so you can have a plan in place.

When blood glucose is too high, you may:

  • Feel hungry
  • Feel very thirsty
  • Feel tired or exhausted
  • Urinate often
  • Have blurred vision
insulin medicines

What will happen if I stop taking insulin?

Some days you may feel like you want to skip injections. But skipping insulin can cause serious problems.

Without enough insulin, your blood glucose will increase. High blood glucose (hyperglycemia) can make you feel unwell. It can lead to emergencies such as diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA)Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA)DKA is a condition that occurs when there is a lack of glucose in the body and a buildup of ketones in the blood. Ketones are made when the body uses fat for energy instead of glucose. This can happen when the ratio of glucose to insulin in the body is improper, so your cells don’t get the glucose they need to use for energy. —a condition where your body produces an unsafe level of ketonesKetonesOrganic compounds produced when the body breaks down fats and fatty acids to use as fuel. This is most likely to occur when the body does not have enough glucose or carbohydrates or the body cannot use glucose effectively. Because high levels of ketones are dangerous, a urine test is one way to check the level of ketones in your body.. Ketones are natural substances that are created when fat is being used for energy instead of glucose (since people with diabetes don’t make enough insulin on their own to properly process blood glucose). Too many ketones in your blood can cause unsafe changes in blood chemistry. Skipping insulin can also lead to other issues like infections and an increased risk of long-term health problems.

lower risk of long term problems

Lowering the risk of long‑term problems

If blood glucose is consistently higher than it should be, it may increase the risk of some diabetes-related problems. That’s why it’s so important to keep blood glucose at the levels recommended by your doctor. You can help reduce the risk of these problems.

Your doctors will look out for signs of these problems during routine checkups. The tests they perform, such as urine and blood tests, and eye and foot examinations, can show important early warning signs of problems. You can catch them at a stage when they can be treated—before they cause major damage.

Taking control of diabetes

It is important to learn how to manage diabetes and how to balance eating, moving, and treating. Maintaining good blood glucose control can help reduce the risk of some long‑term problems.

Test your knowledge

If you forget to take a dose of your medicine, you should:


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Ask your doctor about what to do. Different medicines work in different ways, so there is no one answer for what to do if you miss a dose. Be sure to ask for every medicine you take since the directions may not be the same.

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Your diabetes care team

Help for diabetes is all around you. You just have to know who to put on your team.

Understanding insulin

Your guide to the different kinds of insulin treatments.


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