For patients who have diabetes, Levemir is a brand-name medication. The medication inside it is called insulin detemir. The pancreas naturally makes this hormone so that the body can take the glucose that comes from food and allow the body to use it or store it. Glucose is a form of sugar that the body needs for energy. When people have diabetes, the insulin that the body makes isn’t being used properly, or it doesn’t create enough insulin to be effective. When either of these occurs, glucose gets built up in the bloodstream because the body can’t properly use it or store it.

Levemir is injected under the skin to help lower the amount of glucose in the blood. When there’s too much glucose there, it can cause extreme health problems and even death. There are a number of types of insulin, and this is a type that’s long acting. Once it’s been injected, this medication gets released slowly and consistently so that the bloodstream has enough of it. It keeps working for 24 hours.

Levemir is used by adults who have type 2 diabetes and need an insulin that’s long acting. It’s also used in patients ages two and up who have type 1 diabetes.

Levemir Products

There are different Levemir products that you might be prescribed. All of them allow for the medication to be injected subcutaneously.

Levemir FlexPen

This insulin pen is pre-filled with Levemir. The pen contains insulin detemir and is disposable after use. The insulin is visible through the pen so you can make sure it looks clear before injecting the medication.

Levemir PenFill Cartridge

This is another way to inject Levemir. It is a cartridge that’s used in a pen that’s used over and over again. The needle is changed out with each use, and the pen is kept for many injections as directed by your doctor.

Precautions and Warnings of Levemir

Don’t take this medication if you’re allergic to it. Don’t take this medication when your blood sugar is low, also known as hypoglycemia. Be sure that your doctor knows your full medical history before you start this medication. This is especially true if you’ve had pituitary or adrenal gland problems, thyroid trouble, liver disease, or kidney disease.

It’s possible for this medication to cause patients to be dizzy, drowsy, or to have blurry vision. This happens when your blood sugar is very low or very high. Before you drive or operate other machinery while on this medication, see how this medication affects you. When you take this medication, don’t drink alcohol. It can make you develop low blood sugar, and this can make it harder to regulate your blood sugar.

When your body is going through stress like recovering from an injury, having a fever, etc., it can also make it harder to keep your blood sugar levels under control. If you have physical stress, talk to your doctor. You may need your dosage of Levemir changed. If you’re going to have any type of surgery, make sure the doctor knows that you take this information. If you exercise, check your blood sugar before and after you do so. Many diabetics need to eat a snack before they exercise.

If you’re going to be traveling to another time zone, talk to your doctor about how your insulin schedule may need to be changed. Also let the doctor know if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Pregnancy can cause diabetes as well as worsening it. You may need a change in your treatment that includes a different dose of insulin. This medication does go into breast milk, but it’s not thought that it harms a baby.

If you’re in a state of diabetic ketoacidosis, this isn’t the right medication to take. Talk to your doctor about getting a short-acting type of insulin. Never share a Levemir pen or a needle with anyone else. Even if you replace the needle, don’t let anyone else use the pen.

You can get low blood sugar when you take this medication. It can happen if you exercise for too long, have alcohol, have a lot of stress, or skip a meal. If you get into this state, you may have weakness, a headache, tremors, shaking, hunger, sweating, or have a hard time concentrating. Let those in your household or those at work know what to do to help you if this should happen.

Levemir Side Effects

There are quite a few side effects that can happen when you take Levemir. Some side effects may be mild while others are more severe.

Common Side Effects

For some people, the side effects they experience go away after taking the medication for a little while. These side effects are common:

  • Pain, weakness or numbness in the arms and legs
  • Changes to your vision
  • Mild itching or rash
  • Injection site swelling, itching, or redness
  • Weight gain
  • Injection site skin thickening

Serious Side Effects

If these side effects are uncomfortable or interfere with your life, let your doctor know. Your dosage or type of medication may need to be changed. Also tell your doctor if you have any of these serious side effects:

  • Symptoms of an allergy such as hives or an itchy rash
  • Symptoms of low blood sugar such as anxiety, difficulty speaking, vision changes, sweating, fast heartbeat, headache, and sweating
  • Joint swelling
  • Symptoms of having low potassium such as constipation, weakness, muscle cramps, and fatigue

Severe Side Effects

If you have these severe symptoms, get medical attention right away:

  • Unconsciousness
  • Seizures
  • Signs of a severe allergic reaction such as difficulty breathing, sweating, vomiting, dizziness, swelling of the throat or face, and fast heartbeat

Drug Interactions With Levemir

There is a wide range of medications that can interact badly with Levemir. Many medications shouldn’t be taken along with Levemir while others will interact but are less dangerous to use together. Some of the drugs that interact poorly include:

  • Androgens such as testosterone
  • Birth control pills (such as Yaz or Seasonique)
  • Acetylsalicylic acid
  • Corticosteroids such as prednisone and hydrocortisone
  • Other diabetes medications
  • Diuretics
  • Epinephrine (EpiPen)
  • Glucagon
  • Estrogen
  • Antivirals for hepatitis C
  • Linezolid
  • Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil)
  • Protease inhibitors for HIV
  • Mifepristone
  • Niacin
  • MAOIs
  • Pasireotide
  • Progestins
  • Quinine
  • Somatostatin
  • Quinolone antibiotics
  • SSRIs
  • Sulfa antibiotics
  • Tramadol

Strengths and Dosages of Levemir

This medication is always injected, and it’s taken once or twice a day, depending on your doctor’s orders. There is the FlexTouch pen, which is a pre-filled pen that comes with 3 mL of this medication. There are 100 units of insulin that are in each mL. There is also a 10 mL vial of Levemir that can be used with a syringe. It also has 100 units per mL. Whether you get one injection or two injections a day depends on a lot of factors, including how well the insulin is working for you.

FlexTouch pen prefilled:3 mL, 100 units per mL
Vial:10 mL, 100 units per mL

Levemir Alternatives

Lantus is a very similar insulin that is also long acting. The biggest difference between them is that Levemir is often prescribed for two smaller doses of medication per day while Lantus is virtually always administered in one injection per day.

FAQs About Levemir

How do I use Levemir FlexPen?

This pen is injected under the skin. First, you must wash your hands and clean the appropriate spot with alcohol. Then, you clear out any air and then set the dosage meter to give you exactly the dosage prescribed. You then inject this dose just under the skin.

What is Levemir?

Levemir is a long-acting type of injected insulin. It’s a man-made medication, and Levemir is the brand name.

What is Levemir used for?

It’s used to treat both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. It can help adults with type 2 and people aged two or older with type 1.

How long does Levemir last?

The effects of the injection last for about 24 hours.

Who makes Levemir?

Novo Nordisk is the manufacturer of this medication.

How long is Levemir good for after opening?

Once it has been opened, it’s good for about 42 days.

What type of insulin is Levemir?

The type of insulin is called insulin detemir.

Where to inject Levemir?

It can be injected into the upper thighs, upper arms, and stomach.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The information provided here is for educational purposes only and is not intended to serve as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment recommendations. It should not be taken as an endorsement of any specific medication or treatment. Individual health conditions and responses to treatment can vary greatly; therefore, this information should not be seen as a guarantee of safety, suitability, or effectiveness for any particular individual. Always consult with a healthcare professional for personalized medical advice and before making any decisions regarding your health or treatment plans.

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