Are you nervous about injecting insulin for the first time? With a little practice you'll discover it only takes a few seconds. Watch our how-to video to help ease your anxiety. A transcript of this video is also available.
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Hi. My name is Jenny De Jesus, and I'm a registered nurse and certified diabetes educator.
If you, or a loved one, has diabetes and has been prescribed insulin, there are several things you should be aware of:
To begin, many types of insulin are available. Your health care provider will decide the best type, amount and administration times for you.
It's also important to know the ways in which insulin may be injected and which parts of the body are potential injection sites.
It's understandable if you're nervous or anxious about injecting insulin for the first time. Although injecting insulin might feel awkward or scary at first, with a little practice you'll discover it only takes a few seconds.
To help ease your anxiety, I'm going to show you how.
Let's get started.
There are three primary tools used to inject insulin. They are:
And insulin pumps.
There are four areas of the body in which insulin is injected. They are:
The abdominal area
Some parts of your arms
Some parts of your legs
And certain areas of the buttocks.
The preferred injection site is the abdomen, specifically from the bottom of the ribs to the pubic line, avoiding the navel. The abdomen provides the best absorption and is relatively easy to reach.
Avoid areas with scarring or moles because the tough tissue may not absorb insulin well.
If your health care provider has prescribed insulin for you to inject using a syringe and vial, follow these five steps:
Step 1: Roll Your Insulin if Necessary
If using an intermediate- or long-acting insulin that looks cloudy or milky white, gently roll the bottle between your palms for 15 seconds to mix. Only the cloudy looking insulin needs to be rolled.
Step 2: Measure Air
Measure air into your syringe by pulling the plunger back. Match the black plunger tip with the correct marking on the syringe.
Step 3: Equalize the Pressure
Remove the cap from the top of the insulin vial, revealing the rubber stopper. Remove the needle cover. Put the needle through the rubber stopper and push down on the plunger to put the air into the insulin vial. This helps equalize the pressure in the bottle, making it easier to withdraw the insulin.
Step 4: Prepare Your Dose
Leaving the needle in place, turn the bottle upside down. The needle tip should be fully submerged in the insulin.
Pull the plunger down to measure your dose, again using the black tip of the plunger to match the markings on the syringe.
Pull the needle out of the vial.
Turn the syringe with the needle pointing up and gently tap on the syringe to move any air bubbles up. Then, slowly push the plunger so that the air exits the syringe.
Step 5: Inject Your Insulin in the Appropriate Injection Site
To inject yourself:
Hold the syringe like a pencil.
Gently pinch skin with your free hand and quickly insert the needle at a 90-degree angle.
Release the pinch.
Push down on the plunger in a steady motion until the syringe is empty. Pull the needle straight out of the skin.
That's it! As I mentioned earlier, with a little practice you'll be able to inject yourself in a matter of seconds. My patients generally find that anticipating the injection is the hardest part.
If your health care provider has prescribed insulin for you to inject using an insulin pen, follow these four steps:
Step 1: Choose Injection Site
Regardless of whether you are injecting insulin via a syringe or the pen, select a different injection site each time you inject.
Step 2: Prime the Pen
Insert the needle into your insulin pen. Turn the knob to the number "2" and press down on the knob to prime the pen.
Step 3: Set the Pen to Your Dose
Turn the knob until you see the correct dosage digits.
Step 4: Inject Yourself
Press the dosing knob. This inserts the needle and delivers the insulin.
If, however, your health care provider has recommended and prescribed you inject insulin using an insulin pump, you would go through additional training on the use of the device.