If you will take your insulin shots regularly then you will be able to successfully control your diabetes. Now this statement can be easy for a doctor but for a patient who has phobia of injections, this statement is like a nightmare. Yes, this is true!! Many of us never want to let that injection needle crawl under our skin but in case of diabetes it becomes a part of life.
The another problem is that if you are not educated on how to take an insulin injection then you have to visit a professional on daily basis means there will be loss of time and money. Now the question arises that “can I take the shot myself without taking any help from others?” or “Is taking insulin an easy job?”. The answer is yes, you can take the insulin shot by yourself but you have to learn it in a correct manner and here are some important information on insulin shots which you must know.
Modes of taking inslulin shots
Insulin shots can be delivered through two mechanical systems that are syringes and pens. Here are some features of these systems:
Syringe – This insulin delivery system has been introduced in early nineties and still used worldwide. It consists two parts, a plastic barrel and a steel needle. The modern syringe is disposable and the needle is multi beveled and lubricant coated to facilitate its entry into the skin. Earlier, the two components of syringe comes separately but now attached form is introduced. It can be filled with insulin which comes in small glass bottle called vials containing 1000 units of insulin.
Pen – This mechanism has been introduced in 1980s and has been used on a large scale globally. It has two varieties which are:
- Made up of plastic
- Thin in shape and light in weight
- Prefilled with 300 units of insulin
- For one time use only
- It is available for every type of insulin like basal, rapid-acting, and mixtures
- They can deliver insulin in only full units
- Made up of metal
- Thick in shape and much heavier than disposable pens
- It is designed to hold the prefilled 300 units insulin cartridge
- Some pens can deliver insulin in full units and some can also deliver it in half units
- It can be used multiple times
Both types of pens require a disposable needle to administer the insulin into the body. It has short, thin needle attached to the base that screws on to the pen. It doesn’t come with the needle so you have to get it prescribed separately from your doctor if you are using pen.
Drawing an insulin dose into syringe and pen
There are several steps in drawing a dose into the syringe which are:
- Remove the plastic cap from the needle
- Pull the plunger outside to fill up the syringe with air
- Hold the small glass bottle containing insulin (vial) upside down
- Insert the needle into the vial
- Inject the air into the bottle by pushing the plunger
- Pull the plunger again to draw the liquid insulin into the barrel
- Tap the barrel to move any bubbles to the top and then push the plunger slightly to eject them out
- Pull the needle out of vial and then eject out any extra insulin slowly
- The syringe is filled and is ready to use
[Note: If you won’t draw the air into the syringe before inserting it into the vial and release it into the vial then it will take more time to fill the syringe. it happens because when you release the air inside the vial, it increases the pressure inside it which helps in quick filling of syringe.
The removal of bubbles inside the syringe is equally important as it can displace insulin and less amount of insulin will enter the syringe. Although, the injection will be given in the fat layer under the skin means bubbles are not going to be harmful but still it can cause under dose of insulin into the body.]
There are relatively less steps in drawing a dose in insulin pen which are following as:
- Uncap the pen
- Attach the disposable needle
- Dial up your dose by using the dial provided on the opposite end of the pen
- The pen is loaded and is ready to use
[Note: If you are using a disposable pen or a new insulin cartridge then you have to prime the pen by dialing a small dose and expelling into air. Insulin pen doesn’t develop any bubbles so there is no need to tap it.]
Where to inject
You can inject at places where there is a fat layer like abdomen, upper leg, and upper arm or upper butts. If the injection location will be near to your center of mass then it will take less time to circulate insulin inside the body. You should avoid the scar tissues and belly button so if you are taking injection on your abdomen then you should inject it two inches away from the belly button. You should not inject several times at the same place as it can cause the scarring of underlying tissue therefore you should routinely change the injection site. You should not use the same site for at least two weeks. You should establish a personal rotation system. For example, if you are taking injection on your abdomen then you can start near the area which lies under the ribcage near the center line of the body. The next shot can be one inch away in the left side and so on until you reach the extreme left then you can move downwards in an anticlockwise manner.
How to inject
You should place the needle of the syringe or pen perpendicular (at 90 degree angle) to the skin and gently press it into the skin. There is no need to apply any extra force because the modern needles are super-sharp, beveled and lubricant coated and therefore it will easily slide into your skin effortlessly.
In case of syringe, you have to push the plunger with your index finger or thumb to insert the needle into the skin. As the plunger is pushed at its maximum limit, the medicine will get into the body and you can pull back the needle out of it. In case of pens, grip the base of pen into your loose fist and rest the thumb on the plunger. Insert the needle by gently pushing the plunger and hold it for ten seconds and then you can take it out.
[Note: Don’t massage the injection site after taking out the needle from the skin as it can interfere with the absorption of the insulin into the skin.]
Common mistakes with needles
- Modern needles are intended for one time use only but many people use them more than once which is not a good practice.
- Although, using needles through clothing is harmless but it can dull the needle and reuse of the same needle can cause scarring of tissue.
- With such practice, small fragments of needles can break off and stuck into your skin.
- You will also experience bruising at the injection site with the use of dull needle.
- Pen users overuses the needles and also leave the needle on the pen which can either leads to crystallization of insulin inside the needle which can fully or partially plug the needle or it can lead to leakage of insulin from the cartridge.
The shots should be taken on consistent time means long lasting or basal insulin should be taken at the same time daily. Fast acting insulin should be taken fifteen minutes before eating so that it can overcome the hike in blood sugar level after mealtime. You should read all the instruction and time period for which it can be used. If You couldn’t use the vial in the prescribed time period then you should discard it and start with a new one.
The abovementioned information are just basic but important knowledge. You should learn more from your diabetes care team to overcome your fear of injections. it is true that nobody likes injection but insulin injections can really help you in controlling your diabetes condition so treat it as your friend and try to accept it in your life to live a healthy life