How Do You Inject Insulin?As part of your diabetes education, your doctor or diabetes educator will teach you the steps involved in injecting insulin. You will want to make notes, practice doing it yourself with the educator, and ask questions about any step in the process that isn’t clear, This program demonstrates how and where to inject your insulin.
The concentration of most insulins available in the United States is 100 units per milliliter. A milliliter is equal to a cubic centimeter (or about the thickness of a dime). All insulin syringes have marks that go with this insulin concentration. Insulin syringes are available in various volumes.
- A 3/10 cc syringe would hold a maximum dose of 30 units.
- A 1/2 cc syringe would hold a maximum dose of 50 units.
- And a 1 cc syringe would hold a maximum dose of 100 units.
Some longer-acting insulins look cloudy, meaning that there are particles that are “suspended” in liquid. If you take this kind of insulin, you want to make sure that it is evenly mixed. To do so, roll the vial gently between your hands. Avoid vigorous shaking, which will produce air bubbles or foam and interfere with your ability to get the correct dose.
Whether or not your doctor has prescribed a single type of insulin or a mix of different types, injecting insulin is a four-step process – Prepare, prime, draw, and inject. Follow these steps in order every time you give yourself an injection. Let’s take a look at each step.
Step 1: Prepare to give yourself the insulin shot. Wash your hands with warm water and soap or an alcohol wipe.
Gather the supplies you need: insulin bottle (or 2 bottles if you mix insulins), syringe, alcohol wipes, and a container to dispose of your syringe and needle.
Check your insulin bottle to make sure it is the correct dose and isn’t discolored or cloudy (if taking clear insulin). DO NOT use insulin that has expired or has clumps on the sides of the bottle.
Clean the top of the bottle with a different alcohol wipe, and then throw the wipe away.
Let the top of the bottle dry. DO NOT blow on it to dry it.
Step 2: Now, you will need to add air to (or “prime”) the insulin bottle. This makes it easier to get the correct amount of insulin into the syringe later on.
First, pick up the syringe, and remove the needle cap.
Next, pull back the syringe plunger to the mark on the syringe that is equal to your dose. In this example, that mark is 20 units. You now have 20 units of air in the syringe.
Next, hold the insulin bottle firmly on a counter or tabletop, and insert the needle through the rubber cap into the bottle.
Push the plunger down so that the air goes from the syringe into the bottle.
Step 3: Next, you need to “draw up” the insulin into the syringe.
With the needle still in the bottle, turn the bottle upside down.
Next, make sure the tip of the needle is in the liquid, and slowly pull back the plunger to the marker on the syringe that is the same as your total dose (in this example, that mark is 20 units). Be extra careful to get the right amount of insulin.
Now, check for air bubbles. If any air bubbles are in the syringe, try holding the syringe and bottle in one hand while tapping the side of the bottle with the other. This moves the air bubbles to the top where you can push them back into the bottle. Then, draw the correct dose.
Once you don’t see any bubbles, hold the syringe without touching the plunger, and remove the needle and syringe by lifting the bottle away from the needle.
Use the syringe immediately.
Make sure to not let the needle touch anything else until it touches your skin for the injection.
Step 4: Inject insulin. If the skin is visibly dirty, wash the area with soap and water. DO NOT use an alcohol wipe. Let the skin dry.
Pinch up the skin, and put the needle fully through the skin at a 45-degree angle (unless your doctor tells you differently).
Let go of the “pinched “skin. Then, slowly and steadily push the plunger down completely.
Keep the syringe in place for five seconds after you’ve finished injecting the insulin.
Remove the needle at the same angle you put it in.
Using your finger or a cotton ball or gauze, cover the site and apply a little pressure for five to eight seconds. Do not rub the injection site.
After you’ve injected the insulin, follow these safety guidelines to discard the syringe and the attached needle:
Never reuse needles or syringes.
Discard both into a puncture-proof container, such as a laundry detergent bottle. Be sure to replace the container’s screw cap.
You can also purchase a special “Sharps” container with a hinged lid to store your used syringes and needles. When your storage or “Sharps” container is 3/4 full, ask your pharmacist how to dispose of the container.
Now that you know how to inject insulin, let’s talk about where you should inject your insulin. Where you inject insulin determines how fast it will affect your blood glucose. For example, injecting into your abdomen will result in a quicker transfer of the insulin to your blood than if you injected it in your leg. These are the recommended sites for insulin injections.
When you travel, it is a good idea to pack a heavy-duty container to store your used syringes and needles. Bring the container home with you, and dispose of it properly. If you are flying, you will likely need to make sure the container is in your checked luggage. Talk to the airline if you have questions.
When selecting sites, follow these guidelines:
Change the place of each injection by moving at least a finger’s width from the previous site to prevent problems with fatty deposits forming and interfering with how the insulin works.
Make sure to NOT inject into your muscle, a scar, a mole, an area that is red, infected, or has a rash.
Stay at least 2 inches away from your navel in any direction.
Many healthcare providers recommend that injecting your insulin in the same area is best for consistent results. So, you might want to inject your morning insulin into your abdomen before breakfast and then use an area on your leg for your before-dinner injection