How You Should Give an Insulin Injection: Your Essential Guide
Quick, think about life-saving medications. Aspirin or penicillin may come to mind.
But 8.3 million Americans require insulin to regulate their blood sugar levels. That’s more than 2.5% of the population, and that number will increase over time.
You should expect to need an insulin injection or help someone else with their injections. Insulin injections are about more than jabbing needles into your arm. In order to stay safe, you have to figure out a few critical concepts.
What tools do you need for insulin injections? How do you load a needle with insulin? Where should you get an injection?
Answer these questions and you can make diabetes management easy. Here is your quick guide.
Use the Right Type of Insulin
There are a few types of insulin you can purchase. Standard or U-100 insulin contains 100 units of insulin in one milliliter. It is a short-acting form of insulin, so it is good if you need insulin right before meals.
U-300 insulin is long-acting injectable insulin. If your blood sugar levels change over the course of a day, you should get U-300. It is also an option if you need help with your A1C levels.
U-500 insulin is another type of long-acting insulin. It is best for people who need a lot of help with controlling their high blood sugar levels. U-500 can cover your mealtime insulin needs as well.
Humalog insulin can be U-100 or U-200. Take a look at the particular product you are buying so you know what type you are injecting yourself with. Try to give yourself the same type of insulin, as changing types can cause your blood sugar levels to change.
A vial of Humalog insulin costs roughly $10. If you’re looking to save money, you should buy your insulin online.
Buy Good Syringes
At a minimum, you should get syringes that are big enough to store your medication. One centimeter is usually enough to contain one milliliter of medication.
Some packages of insulin contain syringes, so you don’t need to buy them separately. You should buy a few spare syringes just in case your others break.
You also need to find the right needles. You do not have to inject insulin deep into your body, so a needle that is half an inch long is all you need.
The gauge of a needle is the size of the needle’s hole. A gauge of 25 to 30 is usually okay.
Get Additional Supplies
Besides syringes and needles, you also need alcohol wipes to disinfect your skin. You’ll usually just need one per injection, but you may need two if your skin is abrasive.
You must have a sharps container so you can get rid of your syringes and needles without harming others. The container should have thick walls so the needles cannot puncture through them. If you can’t find a good container, you can use a laundry detergent bottle with a screw-top lid.
Insulin should be stored in the refrigerator between 36 and 46 degrees Fahrenheit. It is okay to keep your insulin at hotter temperatures, but you should avoid storing it in a well-lit or warm area. You can buy a cooler to keep your insulin cold and dark.
Adopt an Insulin Schedule
If you are using short-acting insulin, you should inject yourself before you eat. Try to give yourself an injection within 30 minutes of your meal.
Schedule your meals so you eat at the same times every day. This cues your body to accept the insulin that you inject into your system. This can also help your digestion.
If you are using long-acting insulin, you can give yourself an injection whenever it is convenient for you. Some people find it easy to inject themselves right after they wake up while others inject themselves between meals.
Fill the Syringe
Before you touch your syringe, you need to wash your hands with warm water and soap. You can also rub hand sanitizer so you kill the bacteria on your hands.
Take a look at your bottle of insulin and check the expiration date. You should also notice if there are any clumps in your insulin. If there are, you need to throw the bottle out and get another one.
Wipe the top of the insulin bottle off with an alcohol wipe and then let it dry. You can now take the cap off your needle and pull the syringe back. Only pull back as far as you need to go for your dose.
Put the needle through the top of the bottle and push the plunger. While keeping the needle in the bottle, turn the bottle upside down so the insulin flows in. Then pull back on the plunger so you get the dose you need.
Check your syringe for any air bubbles. If you notice a few, tap the syringe with one hand until the bubbles rise to the surface and pop.
Deliver the Insulin Injection
Your shots should be at least one inch away from scars and two inches from your navel. Do not inject skin that is bruised, lumpy, or damaged in any way.
Try injecting the insulin into different parts of your body. This lets your insulin flow to different tissues and keeps you from developing a skin infection.
Wipe the area you are going to inject with a wipe and wait for the alcohol to dry. Pinch your skin with one hand and place the needle through the skin at a 45-degree angle.
The needle should go all the way into the skin and the insulin should pass slowly into your body. Wait a few seconds for the insulin to pass through, then remove the needle and put it in your sharps container.
Figure Out How to Inject Insulin
An insulin injection can save your life. Buy bottles of insulin that meet your needs and get syringes and needles that make injections easy.
Try to make your injections at the same time every day. Disinfect your hands, needle, and skin with alcohol-based wipes.
You can then fill your needle and inject it into your skin, yet you should do so carefully. Pick a patch of skin you haven’t injected previously and move your needle slowly.
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