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How To Inject Insulin With A Syringe


Lower Back Hips Or Buttocks

How to Inject Insulin with a Syringe

Insulin injection sites are a very personal choice, but insulin in the lower back, hips, or buttocks is generally the preferred insulin injection site for people with diabetes. Lower insulin injection sites were once more popular because it’s easy to inject insulin quickly and it is less painful than areas such as the stomach or upper legs.

How To Choose The Right Insulin Pen Needle Or Syringe

If you live with insulin-dependent diabetes and manage your blood sugars with an insulin pen or syringe, youre most likely taking 2 or more insulin shots a day.

Thats a minimum of 730 times a year that youre piercing your skin with a needle to do an injection.

I do a lot more than 2 injections a day. Im closer to 7 doses a day, which isnt unusual for people living with diabetes. Thats 2,555 injections a year!


I dont mind and it doesnt hurt. But one of the main reasons it doesnt hurt is that I use the right needle, the right injection technique, and I change my needles frequently.

In this article, youll learn how to choose the needle or syringe size thats right for you to minimize pain, avoid scar tissue buildup, and ensure that a full dose is received every time you inject.

Insulin Storage And Syringe Safety

Although manufacturers recommend storing your insulin in the refrigerator, injecting cold insulin can sometimes make the injection more painful. To avoid this, many providers suggest storing the bottle of insulin you are using at room temperature. Insulin kept at room temperature will last approximately one month.

Remember though, if you buy more than one bottle at a time to save money, store the extra bottles in the refrigerator. Then, take out the bottle ahead of time so it is ready for your next injection.

Here are some other tips for storing insulin:


  • Do not store your insulin near extreme heat or extreme cold.
  • Never store insulin in the freezer, direct sunlight, or in the glove compartment of a car.
  • Check the expiration date before using, and don’t use any insulin beyond its expiration date.
  • Examine the bottle closely to make sure the insulin looks normal before you draw the insulin into the syringe.

If you use regular, check for particles or discoloration of the insulin. If you use NPH or lente, check for “frosting” or crystals in the insulin on the inside of the bottle or for small particles or clumps in the insulin. If you find any of these in your insulin, do not use it, and return the unopened bottle to the pharmacy for an exchange and/or refund.

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The Importance Of Insulin

Insulin is a hormone that your body uses to help convert glucose from the food or drinks you consume into energy. Once insulin helps glucose enter your cells, blood sugar levels in your bloodstream decrease. Using insulin is critical for both those who do not make any insulin and for people who are unable to produce enough insulin to keep blood sugar levels in control.

People with type 1 diabetes need to inject insulin daily to survive, and sometimes people with type 2 diabetes need to add insulin shots to their therapy regimen in order to keep blood sugar levels in check. Women with gestational diabetes sometimes need to inject insulin as their pregnancy progresses and overall hormone levels rise, but insulin injections can often be discontinued after delivery.

Types Of Insulin Injection Devices

Diabetes Hormone

Today, there are multiple options for your insulin needs. Here, well look at some of the most common devices used to administer insulin.


Insulin Syringes

While theyre no longer the only choice for insulin, syringes are still the most widely-used insulin delivery method. These disposable needles inject insulin right under the skin. Once youve used a syringe, its crucial to get rid of it right away to avoid health risks.

Insulin Pumps

One of the downsides of insulin syringes is that they require regular injections, which can be a hassle at best and painful at worst. Fortunately, the use of an insulin pump can substantially lower your injection needs. These computerized devices, which you wear outside your body, can automatically deliver the insulin you need.

Insulin pumps are a much newer product category than insulin syringes, so many people including people with diabetes arent familiar with how they work. Weve created an article full of answers to frequently asked questions about these devices if youd like to learn more.

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Too Much Insulin Or Not Enough

High morning blood sugar levels before breakfast can be a puzzle. If you haven’t eaten, why did your blood sugar level go up? There are two common reasons for high before-breakfast blood sugar levels. One relates to hormones that are released in the early part of sleep . The other is from taking too little insulin in the evening. To see which one is the cause, set your alarm to self-monitor around 2 or 3 a.m. for several nights and discuss the results with your health care provider.


What Is Insulin And Why Do I Need It

Insulin is a hormone that controls the level of blood sugar 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 goal in treating diabetes is to keep the blood sugar level within a normal range.

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How Do I Store My Insulin

If you fill a prescription with more than one vial or pen of insulin, store the insulin that is not in use in the refrigerator. Do not store insulin in the freezer. The vial or pen thats in use can be stored at room temperature. Once the seal is broken, the insulin can be used for about 28 days. Please do not store your insulin in the car or freezer. Wide changes in temperature, or if the insulin becomes too cold or too hot, it will become damaged and will no longer work as expected, and a new pen or vial should be started. Ideally, do not prefill syringes however if this is necessary please discuss with your health care team.

Injecting Insulin With An Insulin Pen:

How to Inject Insulin Using a Syringe | Nucleus Health
  • Using the hand you write with, wrap your fingers around the insulin pen, keeping your thumb free to push down on the knob.
  • Insert the needle with a quick motion into the skin at a 90-degree angle. The needle should go all the way into your skin.
  • Slowly push the knob of the pen all the way in to deliver your full dose. Remember to hold the pen at the site for 6-10 seconds, and then pull the needle out.
  • You may bleed at the spot of the injection. If you notice bleeding, apply pressure with a clean alcohol wipe or cotton ball. Cover the injection site with a bandage if necessary.
  • Carefully place the outer cap on the needle, unscrew the needle and drop into your container for used sharps equipment.
  • Replace the pen cap and store it at room temperature.
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    How Is Insulin Taken

    Insulin is prescribed by your provider in either an injectable or inhalable form. There are different types of insulin and amounts are individualized and can change. Insulin can be delivered in a plastic pen with a pen needle, glass vial with a syringe, or as an inhalable powder. Your diabetes care team will work with you to decide what the right type, dose, and timing is for you.

    Before You Get Started:

    • Wash your hands
    • Make sure the insulin is clear and colorless. Do not use it if it is cloudy or if you see particles throw it away
    • Do not mix or dilute Lantus® with any other insulin or solution. It will not work as intended, and you may lose blood sugar control
    • Do not share needles, insulin pens, or syringes with others
    • Do NOT reuse needles. Always use a new syringe

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    Where Do I Put My Needles After I Use Them

    Much like your lancing devices, syringes and pen needles are a one-time use product and should not be reused. Do not leave pen needles on your insulin pen. This can cause your insulin to leak or for air to enter the cartridge. Do not share any of your lancing needles, pen needles, or syringes. When you are done with an injection, immediately put any used sharps into one of the following:

  • FDA-approved sharps container. These can be purchased online, at drug stores, or at office supply stores
  • Make your own sharps container using an empty laundry detergent container.
  • Write Sharps. Biohazard. Do Not Recycle on it. When it is 2/3 full, screw the lid on tightly and tape with duct tape. Dont use glass bottles, plastic water bottles, milk jugs or cartons, or soda cans
  • Once the container is full, its important that you know what to do with it. Each state has different rules. Some allow trash or recycle disposal, others require you to bring it to a needle disposal site.

    How To Choose The Right Insulin Syringe

    How to inject insulin (item 222B) by Pritchett &  Hull ...

    Using a syringe for your insulin injections is still the most widely used way of delivering insulin in the United States.


    A syringe is a hollow plastic tube with a plunger inside and a short skinny needle attached. You have to use the syringe to draw the insulin out of a vial and then inject it.

    You want to choose the right syringe for the type of insulin that you use, and the first thing to check is if the concentration of your insulin matches the syringe.

    Its indicated on the syringe what insulin concentration the syringe is for. Insulin concentration is measured in Units/mL and indicated as U-100, U-200, or U-500.

    Make sure your syringe matches your insulin concentration or you might end up injecting the wrong amount of insulin.

    Secondly, you want to choose the syringe size thats appropriate for you. If you use large amounts of insulin at a time, youll want to choose a larger syringe so that you dont have to cut your doses up in smaller amounts.


    • 0.3 mL syringes are for doses under 30 units of insulin and are numbered at 1-unit intervals.
    • 0.5 mL syringes are for doses of 30 to 50 units of insulin and are numbered at 1-unit intervals.
    • 1.0 mL syringes are for doses of more than 50 units of insulin and are numbered at 2-units intervals.

    Finally, you want to consider which size needle is appropriate for you. Just as with pen needles, shorter needles sizes are generally recommended.

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    How To Take An Insulin Injection

    When your healthcare provider or diabetes educator teaches you how to give yourself an insulin injection, they may have you give yourself an injection in order to observe your technique and provide support. Once you get home and its time to give yourself an injection, you can follow these steps as a reminder. If your healthcare provider has given you individualized instructions, always follow them.

    In general, the following steps cover how to take an insulin injection:

    Before you begin, wash your hands and gather supplies, including your insulin vial or pen, a new pen needle or syringe, an alcohol swab, sharps container, and a magnifier if needed.


    How to inject insulin using an insulin pen:

    How to inject insulin with a syringe:

    A note about mixing insulin: Some people mix two types of insulin in one syringe. Mixing insulin in a syringe requires specific steps, and you will want to meet with your healthcare provider or diabetes educator to ensure that that you are accurate in dosing your insulin.

    Storage and disposal tips:

    Dispose of used pen or syringe needles safely so that no one gets an unwanted stick. Pick up a sharps container at the pharmacy, or make your own with a sturdy detergent container or similar plastic jug. Once the container is ¾ full, tape the top back on securely and contact your town to see if they have a sharps program for proper disposal. For more information on sharps disposal follow these guidelines from the FDA.


    Preparing The Insulin Vial

    With the insulin vial standing upright, push the syringe needle into the vial and inject the air into the vial. This ensures the pressure inside the vial helps you to draw up insulin.

    If the insulin is a cloudy insulin, roll the vial gently between the palms of your hands until the insulin is fully mixed.

    insulin duration chart

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    Tips For Administering An Insulin Shot

    If youre new to insulin injections, this process can feel intimidating. Here are some insulin administration tips to help you get started:


    • Store your current insulin bottle at room temperature. Your remaining insulin can be refrigerated, but dont freeze it!
    • Keep a close eye on insulin expiration dates. Expired insulin or insulin thats been open for too long wont be as effective as new insulin, so make sure not to use medication thats past its prime. To help you remember when you opened an insulin bottle, use a marker to write the date you opened it on the vial itself.
    • Remind yourself when to inject insulin. Insulin is a relatively complex medication. You cant use a pillbox to make sure youre getting the doses you need. Instead, set a reminder on your smart device or find another way of letting yourself know when its time for an insulin dose.

    Reduce Your Risk for Developing Lipohypertrophy

    According to scientific data, 22% of the insulin injected into areas affected by lipo is not adequately absorbed by the body. Meanwhile, 39% of people with lipo experienced unexplained hypoglycemia. That means you need to do everything you can to reduce your lipo risk.

    Patients who use insulin for a long time, fail to rotate injection sites properly, and reuse needles are at heightened risk of developing lipo. Because of this, the best ways to fight lipo are making sure to rotate injection sites and dispose of needles every time you take insulin.

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    How To Give Insulin In The Arm With An Insulin Pen Or Syringe

    How To Prepare an Insulin Syringe to Inject a Diabetic Cat

    Injecting insulin into the upper arm can be a bit tricky to do yourself but by using your knee you can create a pinched-up area of skin to inject into. If you find this difficult, for example, if you dont have much loose skin on your arms, it may be best to choose a different injection site, such as your stomach or thigh, or ask somebody else to hold up an area of pinched skin and give your injection for you. The same method can be used whether you are using a syringe or an insulin pen.

  • If you want to, wipe the area of skin where you wish to inject the insulin into with an alcohol swab beforehand, and allow it to dry thoroughly.
  • Sit on the ground and bend your knee, then allow your upper arm to rest on your knee so that it creates a pinch-up area in the fatty tissue at the back of your arm.
  • Insert the needle from the syringe all the way into the skin at a 90-degree angle . If you are using an insulin pen, take the cap off the pen and hold the base of the pen firmly against the skin.
  • Slowly push the plunger of the syringe all the way in, and then leave the needle in the skin for 10 seconds. If you are using a pen, while holding the base against the skin, push down on the injection button. You will hear a loud click. This will insert the needle and start the injection. Keep holding the pen against your skin until you hear a second click in about 5 to 10 seconds.
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    How Long Can Prefilled Insulin Syringes Last

    Opened vials, whether or not refrigerated, must be used within 28 days. They must be discarded if not used within 28 days. If refrigeration is not possible, the open vial in use can be kept unrefrigerated for up to 28 days in a place away from direct heat and light, as long as the temperature is not > 86°F .


    How Do I Take Insulin

    Insulin is normally injected under the skin with a very small needle. It can also be taken with an insulin pen. Your doctor will teach you exactly how to inject insulin, but here are the basics:

    Wash your hands.

  • Take the plastic cover off the insulin bottle and wipe the top of the bottle with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol.

  • Pull back the plunger of the syringe, drawing air into the syringe equal to the dose of insulin that you are taking . Put the syringe needle through the rubber top of the insulin bottle. Inject air into the bottle by pushing the syringe plunger forward. Turn the bottle upside down.

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    How To Inject Insulin

    Before injecting insulin, be sure to check its quality. If it was refrigerated, allow your insulin to come to room temperature. If the insulin is cloudy, mix the contents by rolling the vial between your hands for a few seconds. Be careful not to shake the vial. Short-acting insulin that isnt mixed with other insulin shouldnt be cloudy. Dont use insulin that is grainy, thickened, or discolored.

    Follow these steps for safe and proper injection:


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