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How Do I Take Insulin?

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Injecting Insulin…

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Injecting Insulin…

But Didn’t Know to Ask Just take your shot. What could be easier, right? Well, you’d be surprised how many errors are made by “veteran” insulin users. It turns out there’s nothing basic about the basics of insulin injections. However, you can improve your technique. This article takes a look at the nitty-gritty details behind successful insulin delivery, why they matter, and how to avoid common pitfalls. The gear Realistically, there are two delivery systems when it comes to injecting insulin: syringes and pens. Yes, there are pumps, but that’s a whole other subject. And yes, there are jet injectors, but they are not widely used. Syringes. The first-ever human insulin shot was delivered by syringe in 1922, and here in the United States, more than half of all insulin is still delivered via syringe. Syringes used to be made of glass, had to be sterilized between uses, and had long, thick, steel surgical needles that could be resharpened on a kitchen whetstone. (No kidding.) But syringes have come a long way since then. Syringes are now disposable, the barrels are made of plastic, and the needles are thin, high-tech, multi-beveled, and coated with lubricants to make them enter the skin smoothly. (Bevels are the slanted surfaces on a needle that create a sharp point.) In the old days, the needle and the syringe were separate components. Nowadays most insulin syringes come with the needle attached. People who use syringes almost always purchase insulin in vials. Vials are glass bottles that generally hold 1,000 units of insulin. Pens. Insulin pens date from the mid-1980s, and while syringes still predominate in the United States, much of the rest of the world has traded in syringes for insulin pens. Pens currently come in two varieties: disposable, prefilled pens Continue reading >>

How To Use An Insulin Pen

How To Use An Insulin Pen

Whether you're at home or on the go, an insulin pen offers the benefits of accuracy, convenience, and confidence to people with diabetes. Here's how to use one safely and easily. Whether you're at home or on the go, an insulin pen offers the benefits of accuracy, convenience, and confidence to people with diabetes. Here's how to use one safely and easily. Whether you're at home or on the go, an insulin pen offers the benefits of accuracy, convenience, and confidence to people with diabetes. Here's how to use one safely and easily. Whether you're at home or on the go, an insulin pen offers the benefits of accuracy, convenience, and confidence to people with diabetes. Here's how to use one safely and easily. Continue reading >>

Injection 101: How To Properly Take Insulin

Injection 101: How To Properly Take Insulin

Tips on how to properly administer insulin and considerations to keep in mind when taking the medicine. Probably the most well-known fact about diabetes is that those living with the disease frequently have to prick their fingers and inject themselves with insulin to maintain healthy glucose levels. For those that have been diagnosed with diabetes, they know that injecting insulin can be a daily task that, if not done correctly, can lead to more problems than solutions. Insulin is not the only injectable medication that exists for diabetes patients; there are other medications, known as GLP-1, that are also injected. The use of these medications is increasingly common, and therefore it is extremely important to be aware of proper injection techniques in order to reduce the risk of problems associated with medication injection. Injecting insulin can be done with a vial and syringe or an insulin pen. Studies have shown that insulin pens make the injection process easier for many patients.[1] Needle length is an important factor to consider. New clinical evidence recommends using shorter needles that are 4 mm long.[2] Similarly, the needle gauge is a factor that needs contemplation. Ideally, a short, thin needle works best for most individuals. Insulin and other diabetes medicines are injected subcutaneously, or just below the skin. Research has shown that despite its short length, the 4 mm needle is long enough to adequately reach under the skin.[2] For patients that are heavier, longer needle length may be required. Anyone living with diabetes knows that the whole insulin process is not a pain-free endeavor, which is another reason why thinner and shorter needles are recommended. These compact needles are less painful than traditional needles. Your own health care team w Continue reading >>

Giving Yourself An Insulin Shot For Diabetes

Giving Yourself An Insulin Shot For Diabetes

For those with diabetes, an insulin shot delivers medicine into the subcutaneous tissue -- the tissue between your skin and muscle. Subcutaneous tissue (also called "sub Q" tissue) is found throughout your body. Please follow these steps when using an insulin syringe. Note: these instructions are not for patients using an insulin pen or a non-needle injection system. Select a clean, dry work area, and gather the following insulin supplies: Bottle of insulin Sterile insulin syringe (needle attached) with wrapper removed Two alcohol wipes (or cotton balls and a bottle of rubbing alcohol) One container for used equipment (such as a hard plastic or metal container with a screw-on or tightly secured lid or a commercial "sharps" container) Wash hands with soap and warm water and dry them with a clean towel. Remove the plastic cap from the insulin bottle. Roll the bottle of insulin between your hands two to three times to mix the insulin. Do not shake the bottle, as air bubbles can form and affect the amount of insulin withdrawn. Wipe off the rubber part on the top of the insulin bottle with an alcohol pad or cotton ball dampened with alcohol. Set the insulin bottle nearby on a flat surface. Remove the cap from the needle. If you've been prescribed two types of insulin to be taken at once (mixed dose), skip to the instructions in the next section. Draw the required number of units of air into the syringe by pulling the plunger back. You need to draw the same amount of air into the syringe as insulin you need to inject. Always measure from the top of the plunger. Insert the needle into the rubber stopper of the insulin bottle. Push the plunger down to inject air into the bottle (this allows the insulin to be drawn more easily). Leave the needle in the bottle. Turn the bottle an Continue reading >>

Other Ways To Take Insulin

Other Ways To Take Insulin

While injecting with a syringe or insulin pen are the most popular methods of insulin delivery, other options exist. Insulin Pump Insulin pumps are about the size of an electronic pager and can be worn on a belt or in a pocket. They deliver insulin through a flexible tube inserted under the skin near the abdomen. The user gets a continuous flow of basal insulin, as well as larger bolus doses that are released by pressing a button at mealtimes or at other times when blood sugar levels are above the target range. By providing a small yet constant flow of insulin, insulin pumps mimic the way a healthy pancreas works. For people who keep a close eye on their blood glucose levels, activity levels, and diets, insulin pumps may provide better glucose control and might allow for greater flexibility in your insulin regimen. However, insulin pumps require attention in order for them to give you good results: You need to learn how to operate a pump before you can use it effectively. You need to know how to count carbohydrates, calculate insulin-to-carbohydrate ratios, and adjust your insulin flow as necessary before meals and activities. You need to monitor your blood glucose levels four to six times per day. There's an increased risk of moderate to severe low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia. There's a risk of inflammation and infection at the insertion site. There's an increased risk for hyperglycemia and ketoacidosis if your insulin delivery is interrupted in any way. An insulin pump is usually worn 24 hours per day, seven days per week. Jet Injector Jet injectors are devices that force a tiny stream of insulin through the skin by pressure. Unlike syringes and insulin pens, jet injectors don't puncture the skin, which is good news for people who are afraid of needles. Ho Continue reading >>

Insulin Treatment

Insulin Treatment

Insulin is a hormone made in your pancreas, which lies just behind your stomach. It helps our bodies use glucose for energy. Everyone with Type 1 diabetes and some people with Type 2 diabetes need to take insulin – either by injection or a pump – to control their blood glucose levels (also called blood sugar levels). Injecting insulin Insulin is injected using a syringe and needle, or an insulin pen or needle. The needles used are very small as the insulin only needs to be injected under the skin (subcutaneously) – not into a muscle or vein. Once it's been injected, it soaks into small blood vessels and is taken into the bloodstream. As your confidence grows and you become more relaxed, injections will get easier and soon become second nature. The most frequently used injection sites are the thighs, buttocks and abdomen. You may be able to inject into your upper arms, but check with your diabetes team first as this isn't always suitable. As all these areas cover a wide skin area, you should inject at different sites within each of them. It is important to rotate injection sites, as injecting into the same place can cause a build up of lumps under the skin (also known as lipohypertrophy), which make it harder for your body to absorb and use the insulin properly. The three groups of insulin There are three groups of insulin – animal, human (not from humans but produced synthetically to match human insulin) and analogues (the insulin molecule is like a string of beads; scientists have managed to alter the position of some of these beads to create 'analogues' of insulin). Nowadays, most people use human insulin and insulin analogues, although a small number of people still use animal insulin because they have some evidence that they otherwise lose their awareness of Continue reading >>

Diabetes: How To Use Insulin

Diabetes: How To Use Insulin

Please note: This information was current at the time of publication. But medical information is always changing, and some information given here may be out of date. For regularly updated information on a variety of health topics, please visit familydoctor.org, the AAFP patient education website. What is insulin, and why do I need it? Insulin is a hormone that controls the level of blood sugar (also called glucose) in your body. People with diabetes may not have enough insulin or may not be able to use it properly. The sugar builds up in the blood and overflows into the urine, passing out of your body unused. Over time, high blood sugar levels can cause serious health problems. All people with type 1 diabetes, and some people with type 2 diabetes, need to take insulin to help control their blood sugar levels. (The box below lists the different types of insulin.) The goal in treating diabetes is to keep the blood sugar level within a normal range. Do I need to monitor my blood sugar level? Yes. You need to check your blood sugar level regularly using a blood glucose monitor. Your doctor or the office staff can teach you how to use the monitor. You'll need to write down each measurement and show this record to your doctor, so your doctor can tell you how much insulin to take. How often will I need to take insulin? Your doctor will give you a schedule. Most people with diabetes need at least 2 insulin shots a day. Some people need 3 or 4 shots for good blood sugar control. When should I take insulin? If you take Regular insulin or a longer-acting insulin, you should generally take it 15 to 30 minutes before a meal. If you take insulin lispro (brand name: Humalog), which works very quickly, you should generally take it less than 15 minutes before you eat. What is different Continue reading >>

Insulin Therapy

Insulin Therapy

Why do I need to take insulin? When you digest food, your body changes most of the food you eat into glucose (a form of sugar). Insulin allows this glucose to enter all the cells of your body and be used as energy. When you have diabetes, your body doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use it properly, so the glucose builds up in your blood instead of moving into the cells. Too much glucose in the blood can lead to serious health problems. All people who have type 1 diabetes and some people who have type 2 diabetes need to take insulin to help control their blood sugar levels. The goal of taking insulin is to keep your blood sugar level in a normal range as much as possible so you’ll stay healthy. Insulin can’t be taken by mouth. It is usually taken with injections (shots). It can also be taken with an insulin pen or an insulin pump. How often will I need to take insulin? You and your doctor will develop a schedule that is right for you. Most people who have diabetes and take insulin need at least 2 insulin shots a day for good blood sugar control. Some people need 3 or 4 shots a day. Do I need to monitor my blood sugar level? Yes. Monitoring and controlling your blood sugar is key to preventing the complications of diabetes. If you don’t already monitor your blood sugar level, you will need to learn how. Checking your blood sugar involves pricking your finger to get a small drop of blood that you put on a test strip. You can read the results yourself or insert the strip into a machine called an electronic glucose meter. The results will tell you whether or not your blood sugar is in a healthy range. Your doctor will give you additional information about monitoring your blood sugar. When should I take insulin? You and your doctor should discuss when and how you Continue reading >>

Insulin Delivery

Insulin Delivery

There are different ways to inject insulin into your body; this is called insulin delivery. Syringes, pens, pumps, and jet injectors give many persons with diabetes options for their insulin delivery. Syringe A syringe is a device with a hollow center, plunger, needle, and removable needle guard. The outside of the syringe is marked with lines to assist you when drawing up the correct amount of insulin. Some tips for using the syringe and needle for insulin delivery: Shorter needles mean less injection discomfort. However, injection depth affects how quickly insulin takes effect. Coordinate syringe size (e.g., 1cc, 1/2cc, 3/10cc) to match insulin dose. Do not re-use a syringe. Do not share a syringe. Dispose of used syringes in a sealable and puncture-resistant container (e.g., empty detergent bottle or in a special container created to dispose of medical waste—a sharps container) or check for drop-off sites in your community (e.g., pharmacy). Insulin Pen An insulin pen resembles a large pen. It replaces the vial and syringe, assists people with poor eyesight, and helps avoid over- or under-dosing. Different companies manufacture these devices. Pens use insulin cartridges and disposable needles. You can select (dial) the proper dose, which is displayed in the pen’s window. Some models allow you to reselect the dose if a mistake is made. Needles simply screw into place and are easily removed to be properly discarded. Some pens: Do not require refrigeration after the first use Have a memory to recall past doses Are prefilled, disposable More durable than others Some tips for using an insulin pen: Avoided prolonged exposure to cold or heat—keep your pen at room temperature after the first use. Never carry an insulin pen with the needle attached Do not re-use needles Continue reading >>

Choosing Best Body Site For An Insulin Shot

Choosing Best Body Site For An Insulin Shot

In the past, doctors and nurses told patients to rotate their insulin shots to different sites on their bodies. Now we know that it's best to take insulin shots in the part of the body that matches the insulin action a person wants. See Illustration: Sites for Injecting Insulin Injection Areas and Action Insulin enters the bloodstream faster from some areas of the body than from others. Where you take your shot can affect your blood sugar levels. Generally, insulin enters the blood: Fastest from the abdomen (stomach area). A little slower from the arms. Even more slowly from the legs. Slowest from the buttocks. Exercising can also speed up the amount of time it takes for the insulin to enter your blood. You can figure out where to take your shot based on how quickly or slowly you want the insulin to enter your bloodstream. For example, if you're going to be exercising, such as walking or doing any kind of lifting, you probably don't want to take your shot in your leg or arm. Exercising those areas quickens the amount of time it takes for the insulin to get into your blood stream. This can cause your blood sugar to drop suddenly during or right after you exercise. If you plan to eat right after taking your shot, you might use a site on your stomach. That way the insulin will be available faster to handle the rise in your blood sugar after the meal. Rotate Sites in the Same Area Follow these guidelines when you choose a site to take your shot. Try to be consistent in where you take your shots. Always take your shot of fast-acting insulin in the stomach or arm. Take slower-acting insulin in the leg or buttocks. Try to avoid using the exact spot you used for your last shot. For example, space your next shot just an inch or so from your last previous shot. If you use the sam Continue reading >>

8 Ways To Take Insulin

8 Ways To Take Insulin

How to take insulin Need insulin? While the drug itself may be old—nearly 90 years to be exact—there’s lots of new things happening when it comes to ways to take it. From the old-fashioned needle and syringe to injector pens to pumps, you’ve got choices to make. There’s even a plethora of devices that can help you inject if you have poor vision or mobility issues. Check out these eight options and talk with your certified diabetes educator to determine which insulin delivery system or injection aids are right for you. Needle and syringe With this type of delivery system, you insert a needle into a vial, draw up the appropriate amount of insulin, and then inject into the subcutaneous space—the tissue just under your skin. Here are 5 types of insulin and 9 factors that affect how insulin works. Even though there are other options, needles and syringes remain the most common way to take insulin. Some of the new insulin injection methods, such as the insulin pen, carry only a preset amount of insulin. Thinner needles and other advancements, such as syringe magnifiers, have made syringes easier to use. Syringe magnifier Have poor vision? You’re not alone. According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults aged 20–74 years. Needle guides can help you keep the syringe or pen steady at the desired location and at the correct angle both for drawing up insulin out of the vial and injecting. Some needle guides also come with magnifiers, which help by enlarging the numbers and allowing you to read the fine print and dosages on the syringe. Syringe-filling device These devices are another example of innovations designed to help make insulin needles more palatable. Syringe-filling devices allow a person Continue reading >>

Diabetes Treatment: Using Insulin To Manage Blood Sugar

Diabetes Treatment: Using Insulin To Manage Blood Sugar

Understanding how insulin affects your blood sugar can help you better manage your condition. Insulin therapy is often an important part of diabetes treatment. Understand the key role insulin plays in managing your blood sugar, and the goals of insulin therapy. What you learn can help you prevent diabetes complications. The role of insulin in the body It may be easier to understand the importance of insulin therapy if you understand how insulin normally works in the body and what happens when you have diabetes. Regulate sugar in your bloodstream. The main job of insulin is to keep the level of glucose in the bloodstream within a normal range. After you eat, carbohydrates break down into glucose, a sugar that serves as a primary source of energy, and enters the bloodstream. Normally, the pancreas responds by producing insulin, which allows glucose to enter the tissues. Storage of excess glucose for energy. After you eat — when insulin levels are high — excess glucose is stored in the liver in the form of glycogen. Between meals — when insulin levels are low — the liver releases glycogen into the bloodstream in the form of glucose. This keeps blood sugar levels within a narrow range. If your pancreas secretes little or no insulin (type 1 diabetes), or your body doesn't produce enough insulin or has become resistant to insulin's action (type 2 diabetes), the level of glucose in your bloodstream increases because it's unable to enter cells. Left untreated, high blood glucose can lead to complications such as blindness, nerve damage (neuropathy) and kidney damage. The goals of insulin therapy If you have type 1 diabetes, insulin therapy replaces the insulin your body is unable to produce. Insulin therapy is sometimes needed for type 2 diabetes and gestational diabete Continue reading >>

Giving An Insulin Injection

Giving An Insulin Injection

Your health care provider or a certified diabetes educator (CDE) will teach you all of these steps, watch you practice, and answer your questions. You may take notes to remember the details. Know the name and dose of each medicine to give. The type of insulin should match the type of syringe: Standard insulin contains 100 units in 1 mL. This is also called U-100 insulin. Most insulin syringes are marked for giving you U-100 insulin. Every notch on a standard 1 mL insulin syringe is 1 unit of insulin. More concentrated insulins are now available. These include U-500 and U-300. Because U-500 syringes may be difficult to find, your provider may give you instructions for using U-500 insulin with U-100 syringes. Insulin syringes or concentrated insulin are now widely available. DO NOT mix or dilute their concentrated insulin with any other insulin. Some types of insulin can be mixed with each other in one syringe, but many cannot be mixed. Check with your provider or pharmacist about this. Other general tips: Always use the same brands and types of supplies. DO NOT use expired insulin. Insulin should be given at room temperature. If you had it in the refrigerator or cooler bag, take it out 30 minutes before the injection. Once you have started using a vial of insulin, it can be kept at room temperature for a month. Gather your supplies: insulin, needles, syringes, alcohol wipes, and a container for used needles and syringes. To fill a syringe with one type of insulin: Wash your hands with soap and water. Dry them well. Check the insulin bottle label. Make sure it is the right insulin. Make sure it is not expired. The insulin should not have any clumps on the sides of the bottle. If it does, throw it out and get another bottle. Intermediate-acting insulin (N or NPH) is cloudy Continue reading >>

The Dos And Don'ts Of Insulin Injections

The Dos And Don'ts Of Insulin Injections

When diet, exercise, and oral medications aren’t enough to manage type 2 diabetes, it may be time for insulin. The most important aspect of insulin therapy is using it exactly as prescribed. Still, remembering all the little details can be tricky, and certain mistakes are common. By following these dos and don’ts, you can avoid medication mishaps and keep insulin working as it should. DO: Rotate the insertion site (while keeping the body part consistent). “Insulin is absorbed at different speeds depending on where you inject it, so it’s best to consistently use the same part of the body for each of your daily injections,” says Doreen Riccelli, BSN, director of education at Lake Pointe Medical Center in Rowlett, Texas. “For example, don’t inject yourself in the abdomen on Saturday and in the thigh on Sunday,” she says. “If you choose the thigh for your evening injection, then use the thigh for all of your evening injections.” That said, within the specific body area, it’s important to move each injection site at least one finger’s width from the previous injection site to avoid the creation of hard lumps or extra fat deposits, which could change the way insulin is absorbed. DON’T: Store insulin incorrectly. Insulin can generally be stored at room temperature (59 to 86° F), either opened or unopened, for one month. When kept in the refrigerator, unopened bottles last until the expiration date printed on the bottle. Opened bottles stored in the refrigerator should be used or discarded after a month. Never store insulin in direct sunlight, in the freezer, or near heating or air conditioning vents, ovens, or radiators. It should also not be left in a very warm or cold car. Store it in an insulated case if needed. DO: Work closely with your doctor. Continue reading >>

Type 2 Diabetes And Insulin

Type 2 Diabetes And Insulin

Getting Started When most people find out they have Type 2 diabetes, they are first instructed to make changes in their diet and lifestyle. These changes, which are likely to include routine exercise, more nutritious food choices, and often a lower calorie intake, are crucial to managing diabetes and may successfully lower blood glucose levels to an acceptable level. If they do not, a drug such as glyburide, glipizide, or metformin is often prescribed. But lifestyle changes and oral drugs for Type 2 diabetes are unlikely to be permanent solutions. This is because over time, the pancreas tends to produce less and less insulin until eventually it cannot meet the body’s needs. Ultimately, insulin (injected or infused) is the most effective treatment for Type 2 diabetes. There are many barriers to starting insulin therapy: Often they are psychological; sometimes they are physical or financial. But if insulin is begun early enough and is used appropriately, people who use it have a marked decrease in complications related to diabetes such as retinopathy (a diabetic eye disease), nephropathy (diabetic kidney disease), and neuropathy (nerve damage). The need for insulin should not be viewed as a personal failure, but rather as a largely inevitable part of the treatment of Type 2 diabetes. This article offers some practical guidance on starting insulin for people with Type 2 diabetes. When to start insulin Insulin is usually started when oral medicines (usually no more than two) and lifestyle changes (which should be maintained for life even if oral pills or insulin are later prescribed) have failed to lower a person’s HbA1c level to less than 7%. (HbA1c stands for glycosylated hemoglobin and is a measure of blood glucose control.) However, a recent consensus statement from Continue reading >>

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