How To Use An Insulin Pen – How to Inject Insulin: Injection Sites, Tips, Techniques, and More by Melissa Herman Dierks, RTN, LTN, CDCES
Insulin helps stabilize blood sugar levels and may be prescribed as a medication for diabetics. Starting to take insulin can be scary, but with practice, injecting becomes easier. Learning how to take insulin correctly starts with working with your healthcare team, and the information in this article is intended to reinforce the information they provide.
How To Use An Insulin Pen
Insulin is a hormone that your body uses to convert glucose from the food or drink you eat into energy. After insulin helps glucose enter cells, blood sugar levels in the bloodstream decrease. It is important to use insulin in people who do not produce insulin and who cannot produce enough insulin to control blood sugar levels.
Insulin Injection Needle Or Pen For Use By Diabetics Stock Photo
Type 1 diabetics need daily insulin injections to survive, and sometimes type 2 diabetics need to add insulin injections to their treatment regimen to control their blood sugar levels. Women with gestational diabetes sometimes require insulin injections as pregnancy progresses and hormone levels rise, but insulin injections are often stopped after delivery.
Most people who use insulin inject it with a pen or syringe. An increasing number of people with type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes are using insulin pumps. There are also several needle-free options, including injectable insulin or a jet injector to deliver insulin (which we’ll explain later).
Insulin injections aren’t as scary as you might think. Your healthcare provider or diabetes educator can help you start and prescribe an insulin delivery regimen that best suits your needs. If you are new to insulin injections, the following basic overview will help you learn about the available insulin injection methods.
While most insulin pens are pre-filled and disposable, some “recyclable” pens can be reused by inserting a new insulin cartridge. Insulin pens use pen needles for injection and are available in different lengths to suit your body type.
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Pen needles are very delicate and should only be used once. If you try to reuse the pen needle, you may experience pain and the needle tip may break. Because of the risk of spreading infectious diseases to others, do not share your insulin pen with anyone – even if you change needles. A small amount of blood can be injected into the pen, which can then be transferred to another person.
Insulin pens have a dial that allows you to easily set the amount of insulin before injecting, and it’s easy to see the numbers. Insulin pens do not need to be refrigerated after opening and can be taken with you.
Learning how to inject insulin is a common starting point for many people with diabetes. Some people continue to use disposable insulin syringes due to cost or other factors. Insulin syringes come in different sizes and needle lengths. The size of the syringe you need depends on how much insulin you inject, and the length of the needle depends on your body type.
If you have more fat, you may need a longer needle. You may need a shorter needle if you are very thin or if you are injecting a child. If you are injecting a large amount of insulin at once, you will need a larger syringe so that you do not have to make multiple injections to give the total amount of insulin.
How Use Insulin Pen Diabetes Patients Stock Photo 641156764
The markings on some insulin syringes may be difficult to see. If you are visually impaired, you can buy a magnifier attached to the syringe or use an insulin pen that measures your dose by dialing a specific number.
Once you know how to inject insulin with a syringe, you can ease into other types of insulin injections, from injecting with an insulin pen to filling an insulin reservoir with an insulin pump.
Insulin pumps are worn continuously and filled with insulin through a thin plastic or metal cannula that goes under the skin. The insulin infusion set and insulin reservoir are usually changed every 2-3 days. Like a pen needle or syringe, different insulin pumps come with different infusion tube lengths, cannula sizes, and insulin reservoir capacities to accommodate different body types and insulin doses.
Insulin pumps automate the delivery of insulin, allowing it to be used more efficiently than insulin shots. Pump wearers can see its benefits by helping them enjoy better blood sugar control and improved A1C thanks to the following features:
Patient Use Insulin Pen Self Insulin Stock Photo 631114787
Insulin injectors do not use a needle and inject insulin under the skin. Some people think jet injectors hurt more than needles, and they sometimes leave bruises in place.
Dosing insulin with jet injectors is not always as precise as with a pen or syringe because some of the insulin remains on top of the skin. However, some people who are afraid of needles find that the jet injector works well for them. Your healthcare provider or diabetes educator can discuss whether you may be a candidate for using a jet injector.
There are different types of insulin delivery devices for delivering insulin. You may start with one device, such as an insulin pen, and then move on to another device, such as an insulin pump. As your lifestyle and health change over time, you may find that one device works better than another for your insulin injection needs. If you are new to insulin, you may need to try different options to find the insulin injection device that works best for you.
When learning to take insulin, you will be taught which parts of the body are suitable for insulin injections and the importance of rotating these parts. You should pinch the skin fold where the insulin is injected and be careful not to inject the insulin into the muscle.
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Depending on the type of insulin you use, the part of your body where you inject the insulin can affect how quickly it is absorbed. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) states that insulin is absorbed faster when injected into the abdomen, followed by slower absorption when injected into the upper arms and legs or buttocks/lower back.
When planning an abdominal injection, place your hand on the upper abdomen and do not inject within two fingers (2 inches) of the abdomen.
Choose the area with the most adipose tissue on the back of the arm. If you can’t reach the back of your hand to inject insulin at this site, you may need someone to help you.
When choosing an insulin injection site on the front and side of the thigh, do not go too close to the bony area near the knee.
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Choose a spot on your lower back, just above your hips. The upper part of the buttocks can also be used, but this area can be a little more difficult to reach on its own. In addition, insulin is generally absorbed slowly.
In general, it is recommended to avoid injecting insulin where you have a mole, wound or scar.
It is very important to rotate the injection site so that you can reduce the occurrence of lipohypertrophy, which is the accumulation of excess fat at the injection sites after repeated use. Lipohypertrophy looks like lumps under the skin. Insulin injection sites affected by lipohypertrophy do not absorb insulin well, resulting in decreased insulin action and increased blood sugar levels after injection. While you have favorite places to inject insulin or wear an insulin pump infusion set, you should regularly rotate sites.
The ADA recommends injecting dietary insulin into the same area of the body for each meal. For example: As you move to a new location on each of these sites each day, you might try using your stomach for breakfast and your thighs for lunch. Using a different spot on the same part of your body with each meal keeps your blood sugar levels stable while preventing the accumulation of fat or scar tissue in that particular area.
How To Use An Insulin Pen?
If that’s hard to keep track of, there’s a new product called SiteSmart™ Pen Needles. Each box of pen needles contains four different colored needles The product is available in Canada but not yet available in the US.
When your doctor or diabetes educator teaches you how to inject insulin,
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