When you are first told that your Diabetes treatment plan will include taking insulin, it is obvious to feel nervous about giving yourself insulin injections. Whatever insulin regimen you are prescribed, it becomes less daunting and more comfortable the more familiar you become with how to properly inject it. Here are some tips to improve your skills of injecting insulin and to avoid common problems associated with insulin.
It can be given using three different devices, the syringe, pen and the pump. Syringes and pen needles are disposable and designed to be used once.
It is very important for people with diabetes to learn about correct injection site. Insulin injection is given in the fatty layer of subcutaneous tissue. The sites for injection include:
- Any four quadrants of abdomen, at least an inch away from umbilicus
- Front and inner aspect of both the thighs, four fingers above the knee joint and four fingers below the hip joint
- Upper outer area of buttocks
- Outer and rear surface of upper arm
People should use one site at one time of day and rotate around that site keeping each injection about 1 inch apart.
- Clean the area (site) of Injection with soap water. If alcohol swab is used, alcohol should be allowed to dry before injecting injection. Swabbing with alcohol is not necessary as long as the skin has been cleaned.
- Insulin is available in suspension or clear solution form. Suspension form of insulin is not uniform and hence need to be mixed properly. Keep insulin bottle between the palms and roll it gently by keeping the bottle horizontal.
- Take the air in insulin syringe exactly equal to required number of units (prescribed dose of insulin) and inject it into the Insulin bottle.
- Now reverse the bottle and take out exact required amount of insulin.
- Take a broad pinch of skin so that amount of subcutaneous fat is available for injecting insulin. Make sure that the pinch does not contain any muscle.
- Inject the insulin. After the dose of insulin is pushed completely always remember to release the skin pinch first and then to take out the needle from the skin.
- Dispose the syringe safely. Reused needles make injection painful and could damage tissue.
- Remove the pen cover. There are 300 units of insulin in pen cartridge.
- Attach the pen needle onto your insulin pen and dial the dose to the number of units of insulin needed.
- Insert the pen needle into the layer of fat under the skin (just as with the syringe)
- Press the button at the top of the pen or doser.
- Count slowly to 10 before to removing the insulin pen device from the skin to ensure that the dose has been properly delivered. Unlike syringes, there is greater pressure required to deliver insulin and it takes a few seconds for it to be relayed to the subcutaneous fat.
- Take the pen needle off after you use it and dispose it properly.
- Always attach a new needle before each injection. Never leave the pen needle attached between injections.
Note: After attaching a new pen needle it may be necessary to expel the air from the needle. Do this by dialling up 2-5 units and pressing the plunger. Continue to do this until you see a drop of insulin at the end of the needle.
- It is a small computerized device about the size of a pager. The pump continuously delivers rapid acting insulin through the catheter. It is inserted into fat under the skin with a needle. The needle is removed and catheter stays in place. The catheter is attached to tubing which is then connected to the pump. Pump is worn all the time.
- Pump provides a continuous flow of Basal rate insulin. The pump also delivers a bolus dose of insulin. This is to be done by pushing a button.
- People with diabetes require extensive education and need an ongoing high level of commitment for pump therapy to be successful. They are also extremely expensive.
Note: Always store the insulin in cool dry place and away from direct exposure to heat or sunlight. Ideally it should be stored in the door compartment of the refrigerator. Refrigeration is not required for storing the insulin vial that is in current use.