What is Levemir?
Levemir (insulin detemir) is a man-made form of insulin that helps manage blood glucose levels in adults and children (over the age of 2) with type 1 diabetes and adults with type 2 diabetes.
Levemir has not been studied on children under the age of 2 with type 1 diabetes and adults under the age of 18 with type 2 diabetes.
Levemir is a long-acting insulin that begins working within hours of injection and continues to work for up to 24 hours.
Levemir is used as part of a treatment for diabetes that should also include a healthy diet and regular exercise. Follow the instructions provided by your doctor or diabetes instructor for best results.
Levemir is available in two forms:
Levemir insulin vials contain 10 mL of drug solution, with 100 units of insulin detemir per mL. It requires a syringe for injection. Needles are sold separately and sometimes require a prescripton depending on the state.
Levemir FlexTouch Prefilled Pens
The Levemir Flextouch pen contains 3 mL of solution with 100 units of insulin detemir per mL.
As with any insulin, side effects may occur. A side effect is defined as an unwanted symptom that occurs when medication is taken in regular dosages.
Levemir may cause mild or serious side effects. The lists below do not include all possible side effects.
Discuss risks, side effects and how to deal with side effects with your doctor and pharmacist prior to starting treatment.
Common side effects:
- allergic reactions
- hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
- injection site reactions
- lipodystrophy (changes in skin thickness at site of injection)
- swelling of your hands and feet
- weight gain
Serious side effects:
Serious side effects are rare however can occur. Seek medical attention immediately if you are experiencing any serious side effects. If you feel the symptoms are life threatening, seem medical emergency and call 911.
As with taking any insulin, hypoglycemia may occur while taking Levemir and in rare cases can be severe.
Symptoms of severe hypoglycemia include:
- loss of consciousness (individual cannot respond to touch or sound)
- feeling faint or dizzy
- cold sweat
- not able to concentrate
Consult your doctor immediately if you experience severe hypoglycemia or call 911 if you feel the symptoms are life threatening.
Some people may have an allergic reaction while taking Levemir This can happen if they are allergic to any of its ingredients.
Mild allergic reactions may show symptoms that include:
- flushing (reddening or warming of the skin)
- skin rash
Severe allergic reactions may show symptoms that include:
- difficulty breathing
- swelling of the mouth, tongue or throat
- swelling under the skin (usually lips, hands, feet or eyelids)
Seek medical attention immediately you you are experiencing severe allergic reactions to Levemir. If you feel the symptoms are life threatening call 911.
Weight gain or weight loss
Weight fluctuation may occur while taking insulin. Patients who take Levemir tend to gain less weight in comparison to other insulin.
In clinical studies, adults with type 1 diabetes who took Levemir gained an average of 0.4 to 1.1 pounds. In comparison, people who took insulin NPH gained 0.7 to 1.8 lb. Those who took insulin glargine (Lantus) gained an average of 2.2 lb.
Patients with type 2 diabetes who took Levemir gained an average of 1.1 to 2.4 lb, patients who took insulin NPH gained 2.65 to 6.17 lb.
Levemir it taken by injection underneath the skin (subcutaneously). Your doctor or nurse should instruct you on how to administer the medication yourself.
Your doctor, nurse or diabetes educator will show you how to inject Levemir. It’s important to rotate injection sites to avoid potential complications. Do not inject in the same location more than two times in a row.
Do not inject into skin that is tender, bruised, pitted, scaly, thickened, scarred, damaged or contains hard lumps.
Only prepare your Levemir injection when you are ready to give it.
Do not take medication if it appears cloudy, contains particles or has changed colors. If you believe your medication is compromised, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
If you are using Levemir once daily, use it with your evening meal or before bed time. If you are using it twice daily, try to spread your doses out by 12 hours, preferably once in the morning and again in the evening.
Your doctor may want to combine your Levemir insulin with a short-acting insulin however you should inject them separately.
Levemir should not be mixed with other insulin or through an insulin pump.
Only use the injection pen that comes with our Levemir and not any others. Attach a new new needle after every use. Do not transfer insulin from an injection pen to a syringe.
Speak to your pharmacist about how to properly dispose of unused medication. Do not dispose of through wastewater or household trash. Use a syringe and needle only once and discard using a puncture-proof “sharps” container.
- Levemir should be kept in its original container
- Do not store near direct light or heat.
- Do not draw insulin from a vial using a syringe unless you are ready for application
- Do not freeze or store near a cooling element
- Any insulin that has been previously frozen should be discarded
- Keep medication away from children and pets.
Storing unopened Levemir (not in use):
Keep medication refrigerated until the expiry date or store at room temperature and use within 42 days.
Storing opened Levemir (in use):
Store medication in the refrigerator or at room temperature for use within 42 days.
Injection pen should be stored at room temperature and not refrigerated for use within 42 days. Do not store injection pen with needle attached.
WARNINGS & PRECAUTIONS
Levemir should not be used if you are allergic to insulin detemir or any of the ingredients or if you are currently experiencing ketoacidosis (contact your doctor for a treatment of short-acting insulin)
As with any other insulin medication, Levemir should not be shared with others, even if they share similar symptoms.
Do not share syringes, needles or pens as it can lead to the spread of infection.
Other drugs may potentially interact with Levemir and cause side effects. It’s important to inform your doctor if you are taking any other prescription medications, including over-the-counter drugs, herbal supplements or vitamins. Consult with your doctor before starting any new medication while taking Levemir.
Certain oral diabetes medications may increase your risk of heart complications. These include pioglitazone or rosigitazone (sometimes contains in combination of metformin or glimepiride). Inform your doctor if you are taking these medications.
As with taking any insulin, hypoglycemia is a potential side effect which can occur from too much insulin, consuming alcohol, too much exercise, skipping meals or too much stress. It’s important to recognize symptoms of hypoglycemia which can include:
- trouble concentrating
If you feel you are experiencing hypoglycemia you may feel the following symptoms:
To treat hypoglycemia, consume a sugary snack (hard candy, jelly beans, raisins, crackers), drink (fruit juice, soda (non-diet) or glucose tablets.
A glucagon kit may be prescribed by your doctor in case you experience severe hypoglycemia where you may lose consciousness. It’s important to educate family & friends on what to do in case of emergency in case they need to administer a glucagon injection.
It’s recommended to carry medical identification such as an ID card or bracelet that lets others know you have diabetes in case of emergency.
Prior to starting treatment with Levemir, inform your doctor if you have ever had:
- kidney or liver disease
- low levels of potassium in the blood (hypokalemia)
Pregnant or Breastfeeding
Let your doctor know if you are pregnant or looking to get pregnant, breastfeeding or about to start breastfeeding.
Managing your diabetes during pregnancy is very important. High blood sugar can cause complication for both mother and baby. Your doctor may adjust your insulin treatment during pregnancy. It’s important to follow your doctors instructions.
Do not inject into a vein or muscle.
Carefully follow any instructions included with your medications. Ask your doctor or pharmacist questions if you are unsure about taking our medication.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How should I use Levemir?
Levemir should be used as instructed by your doctor or pharmacist. Follow the instructions on the medication label and read all instruction sheets & guides.
What should I avoid while using Levemir?
Since insulin can cause low blood sugar levels, it may be advised to avoid driving or operating heavy machinery until you understand how it affects you. Consult with your doctor.
What happens if I miss a dose of Levemir?
If you miss your dose, contact your doctor for instructions. Keep insulin available at all times and get your prescription refilled before it runs out.