Could my son be allergic to his insulin?

Does anyone have experience with insulin allergies/ throat and sinus irritation correlated to diabetes?

My son is seven and was diagnosed eight months ago. Somewhere around the time of that first ER visit--and subsequent injections of insulin--he started clearing his throat continuously. We have seen multiple doctors. He does (supposedly) sometimes have post-nasal drip, as evidenced by redness in the back of his throat. He often has a runny nose, but not stuffy.  We have done trials of Claritin, Benadryl, Sudafed, Nasonex, and Zyrtec. None helped. Skin tests were negative for all common allergies. He's been on a prescription-strength dose of Zantac (antacid) for about a month, to rule out the possibility of acid reflux. This isn't helping, either. I bought him a humidifier, tried steam, cough drops, herb teas, and saline mist. I took him off dairy for a month and when nothing changed, allowed him to eat it again. I have spoken to doctors about the possibility of this being a habitual behavior, or even a tic. I have taken a number of clinically-supported approaches to treating it as such. But my poor boy insists that it feels like there is something in his throat almost all the time...

I have noticed that either Humalog injections OR the food he then eats will exacerbate the throat-clearing. Could there be something in his insulin causing this problem? His doctors say not likely. 

We will be visiting the ENT this week and will probably hear more of the same. I feel so sorry for my son, not to mention the fact that these constant noises are driving me crazy.

Any advice? Thanks so much.

It is not real common but there are people that are allergic to there insulin. Hopefully that is not the case for you and it will all work itself out soon.

I have a localized (hive) allergy to insulin. First, b/c it's rare, an allergist should test him on only the additives to make sure he's not allergic to those. Then, also to the ingredients in whatever he's using to inject. Send me a message if you want to chat more!

Thanks so much for your reply. Hopefully I can find a doctor that takes our insurance and is able to isolate the ingredients in his insulin for testing. I know the syringes are lubricated but would imagine that if they were causing the problem he'd have a localized reaction like yours, not a systemic one. What's interesting is that the throat-clearing started to get really bad around the time I introduced diluted (U-10) Humalog. This makes me think that some preservative which is present in the Humalog--but also present in the diluent, in greater quantity--is to blame. Of course, it could be anything--which is why I want to scream every time a doctor says there's nothing wrong with him. This is a wild goose chase.

You always have such helpful insights on here. Sometimes I think you must actually be a team of people, lol offering as much information as you do! I really appreciate you sharing your experience for all of us.

Take care,


Yes, I have heard of severe allergies, too. Thankfully I don't think that's our problem. I appreciate the well-wishes. :)

I would be inclined to say no because the insulin is almost an exact clone of what our body makes so it's not something that should be inciting the immune system to overreact and possibly cause respiratory constriction causing irritation in the throat.  The other trace chemicals in our insulin come in such tiny amounts compared to the insulin itself that I would imagine it'd be near impossible for it to elicit allergic response.

If you really want to investigate specific insulins consider switching out the Humalog with Novlog or Apidra for a while to see if anything changes.  The other additives come in different amounts in all those fast-acting insulins.  Those dosing for those insulins is exactly the same for most people.

Have you actually been able to differentiate whether it's the humalog injection prior to the meal or him eating that exacerbates his throat clearing?  Common sense would say it'd be the food, but who knows.

I'm not a doctor, but I've dealt with skin allergies that I went from doctor to doctor trying to get an answer for only to hear "I don't know" so I kind of understand the frustration.

Any diabetes therapy-related allergy you hear is primarily localized skin stuff relating to latex, adhesives, skin preps, or syringes.  I'd say go about life assuming it's not the insulin.  No need to add additional variables by tinkering with diabetes management while you're figuring this out.

Thanks Diana! (:

It's def a good idea to see if one insulin type is better than others, assuming that are are equivalent types.

From what I remember, my doctor contacted the company that manufactures the insulin and ordered the additives to test those.

Hope it's nothing though!

I've reacted to Levemir, myself. The injections resulted in localized swelling which we connected to the insulin and switched me over to Lantus, which has had no adverse effects. To the point earlier about insulin being an exact copy of what is in our bodies, I will contest that as each person's insulin structure is slightly different, as it's a complex hormone. The human body will react to different types of synthetic insulin as it may recognize it as a dangerous pathogen (even when it's not). It's definitely possible that you can be allergic to insulin, I advise seeing if there are other insulin types to try or some way of directly connecting the insulin to the symptoms.

i believe it would be possible to be allergic to an additive or preservative in the insulin, but I am unsure. I would maybe see if the doctor could perscribe a different brand of insulin; humalog, novalog, or apidra for fast acting insulin, levimer, lantus, or the lente's and NPH (if either are still on the market) for long acting insulin.

I want to thank everyone for your replies, but sadly I am not seeing a way to past at the end of this string, lol! So to whomever this reaches, THANK YOU!