Is it a shot, or a bolus?

For those on MDI; when you take a shot before a meal - do you refer to it by the term “shot” - or the term “bolus?”

I called them shots forever - being MDI for 21 years, I always had my shot before dinner.

Moving into the pumping world, I noticed people, with pinkies extended - call it a “bolus” - which for me initially was an unfamiliar term.

So which is it for you - a shot, or a bolus?

I use both terms. I am on MDI’s.

Around my Friends and Family and Endo, it’s a shot. On Diabetes sites, it’s a shot or bolus.

Neither. (Not quite, sometimes I do say bolus if I want/need to be absolutely precise about the type of insulin I’m taking). I say “injection” and when I’m with my Mum (another T1) we might even say: “Have you done your needle yet?”

Another AE (American English) / BE (British English) language difference ;-))

They are unique and specific terms technically.

As you said a shot refers to an injection with a single syringe, be that via an insulin pen, or merely with a syringe. A bolus refers to ithe amount of insulin you use to reduce your BG to your target range, whatever that might be.

They are totally synonymous shot/bolus in terms that you/I took some insulin to reduce our bloodsugar or to cover a high(er) reading you wanted brought lower. But you say bolus most assume a pump exclusively

Shot is a shot period but a bolus could in theory anyway be either.

Merely my opinion I could surely be mistaken,

I don’t quite agree, Stuart. A “shot” (or “injection”) is just that: taking a shot or injecting any kind of substance (in our case it could be rapid-acting or long-acting insulin).

“Bolus” is the opposite of “basal”, where “basal” refers to your “background” insulin needs and “bolus” refers to those shots of rapid-acting insulin to metabolise food intake (as well as correcting hypers ;-)).

On MDIs & use both terms.

Pretty funny actually. While on MDI I always called it a shot. Now with the pump, it is almost always a bolus. Hmmmmm…

I can’t decide which one to use…so instead, I take a sholus.

Yeah, thats right.

when I was on MDI I said shot and sometimes even though I am on a pump I will say shot because I was on MDI forever until last year.

the easy way for me to remember the difference between basal and bolus is basal is the BASE unit of insulin and bolus is like a BOWL of food or sugar. I know weird but it helps me explain what the two words mean to anyone not diabetic and not on a pump.

If a basal dosage lasts a very short time frame, then it could be interchanged with bolus too. Would have to be a real short time frame though… 3-4 hours only.

Basal, bolus, shot not that much difference… all us on meds


Basal the “glass ceiling” for our sugar we hope it cannot break through or get around.

Bolus is the insulin calvary saving our butts when mistakes/problems happen

I love your answer! I’m gonna use it alot!

It used to be a shot with a syringe, now it’s a bolus with the pump.

Geez, that made me laugh so abruptly I spewed a little Diet Coke on my keyboard.

It’s a fix in front of family n friends ( they think its funny) , but i’ve been on a pump for 6yrs so i bolus…

this is funny golden drew …I say I have to give some " juice " , which could mean : a shot , a bolus , a correction bolus, I know what I mean …thank goodness …26 years later !

For me if it is before a meal or before bed it is a shot, a bolus, doin my thing, juice’in up, gotta stab myself, shootin up, takin my hit, dose’in myself, or any other colorful usage…

Also if I am wearing my “Five Humans” shirt “My syringe is not recreational” Nuff Said seems to work well too!!!

Great post!!! Awesome anwsers !!!

I tell others " I have to give myself my medicine" when it was shots ( prepump, seven years ago). Same phrase now on the pump, should friends ask what I am doing. Most know what I am doing and do not ask, Whatever the situation in general public/private settings, I do not use more technical terms."'Bolus" is used exclusively when on diabetes sites like this one, or when talking to medical personnel.

God Bless,

On forums I will refer to it as a bolus
(mostly because there seems to be so many pump-ers on these sites!) :slight_smile:

In front of family, it’s an "injection"
Sometimes it’s just “I need to take my insulin” or “I need my medicine”

My family members joke and say that I’m taking “a hit” or getting my “fix”. I don’t know why, but that bothers me. I guess it makes me feel like a drug addict- even though technically I guess that I am- “addicted to insulin”. I also know that they only joke about it, most of the time, because they’re uncomfortable. It aggravates me that they’re uncomfortable.

But, that’s another discussion… haha.

I don’t know why, but I hate calling it a “shot”.