If you are using insulin injections to manage diabetes, then it is important to know the right way to use it. Dr Pradeep Gadge, Diabetologist, Mumbai shares few tips on how to use inject insulin so you can avoid pain and inflammation.
1. Keep it at room temperature before use.
Insulin is stored in a refrigerator and taken out only before use. But most often than not, people use it directly after taking it out from a fridge, which is not right. Insulin should be kept at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before use. If you fail to do so and use it immediately, it can cause a burning sensation. Do not store insulin pens in warm places like your car or your pocket.
Do not store open insulin pens in a refrigerator.
2. Do not inject at the same place every day.
Most people with diabetes inject insulin at the same spot every day. This can cause pain and abscess (pus) at the site of injection due to constant pressure at the same spot. In the long run, it not only increases the risk of inflammation but also causes hardening of the fat in that area. Moreover, repeated injections at the same place cause a dent or lump in the skin, which makes it difficult to inject insulin. Hence, do not inject insulin at the same place.
3. Rotate the injection site at the abdomen.
The common sites of injection are the abdomen, upper arms, thighs and buttocks. The best technique to inject insulin is around the navel. All you have to do is keep a distance of four fingers around your navel and choose a spot (site) for the first day. The next day move to a spot above and so on till you inject insulin in the abdomen a circular fashion.
Remember, the join-the-dots colouring books we used as kids? You need to think of each injection spot as a dot so you should get a circle if you joined the injection spots for a month.
This way you will inject the insulin at a different spot every day and reach the first spot after approximately 28 days.
Also, each mealtime injection should be given in the same general area for best
results. For example, administer your before-breakfast insulin injection in the abdomen or your before-supper insulin injection in the leg every day for better blood glucose results.
4. Use thin insulin needles instead of thick ones.
Some types of syringes have big needles like the 29 gauge needles, which are the thickest. But you can pick the one with 32 gauge needles, which is a fine syringe and thus, less painful. These needles are widely available. Also, ensure that the muscle at the site of the injection is relaxed.
5. You can also opt for insulin pens.
Most people are scared of injections, which means they are terrified of insulin injections, which they need to use every day. You could use insulin pens instead of syringes. These are not only simple to use but also easy to carry. To use it, all you have to do is dial a button on the pen and give the shot of insulin into the body.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to use insulin pens:
1. Get everything ready. Keep everything handy right from insulin pens, new pen needles, alcohol swab to a plastic container with a lid. Wash your hands with warm water and soap. Check insulin as it should be clear, minus any solid particles. In some cases, it can be cloudy or white in appearance, in such a case, talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist if it is safe to use. If cloudy, hold the pen horizontally and gently roll it between the palms 10 times and turn it up and down around 10 times to mix it evenly.
2. Attach the needle. Take an alcohol swab and wipe needle’s attachment point. Remove the protected seal and attach the needle to the stem. Turn the needle in clockwise, remove the outer cap and keep it ready to inject.
3. Prime the pen. This is to ensure that there are no air bubbles in insulin. Turn dose adjustment dials to two units and hold the pen such that the needle is facing upwards. Tap insulin window to help any air bubble to move up. Push the injection button in to ensure insulin comes out of the pen needle. If a few drops spill then it is ready for use and if not, repeat it again (maximum thrice) or use a new pen.
4. Select a dose: Turn the dose adjustment dial to point to the appropriate dose and then inject it.
5. Inject the insulin. Select the site of injection, wipe it with the alcohol swab and ensure it dries out completely. Pinch the area of skin where the insulin is to be administered. Insert the needle at a 45 to 90-degree angle. Deliver the dose by pushing the injection button in and slowly count to 10. Remove the needle from the skin. If you bleed than gently press at the site with the alcohol swab. Do not rub.
6. Dispose off the needle. Remember than pen needles should not be reused. Do not store insulin pens with needles on. Remove the needle and dispose it in a container and throw in a regular trash can.