Insulin Syringes & Needles
Insulin injections have come a long way since they were first used to treat diabetes. There are not only different types of insulin to meet each user’s individual needs, but also different ways to inject insulin.
Sites for insulin injection include the abdomen, the thigh, the arm and the buttocks. Insulin is absorbed at different speeds depending on where you inject, so it’s best to consistently rotate within the same part of the body for each of your daily injections.
The fastest absorption is at the abdomen (where most people usually inject their insulin and hence is the preferred site), followed by the arm, the thigh and the buttocks.
For injection into the abdomen area, stay at least two inches away from the belly button or any scars you may already have. Injecting in the same place most of the time can cause hard lumps or extra fat deposits to develop. These lumps are not only unsightly, they can also change the way insulin is absorbed, making it more difficult to keep your blood sugar on target.
When rotating sites within one injection area, keep the injections points about an inch (or two finger - widths) apart. Do not inject into scar tissue or areas with broken vessels or varicose veins. Scar tissue may interfere with absorption.
Insulin syringes come in different capacities of 3/10cc, 1/2cc and 1cc. Choose the smallest syringe that is big enough to hold the largest dose you inject each time. The smaller the syringe, the easier it is to read the markings and draw up an accurate dose. If your largest dose is close to the syringe’s maximum capacity, you may want to buy the next size up to handle any increases in your dose adjustments.
Needle size for both syringes and insulin pens refers to both the length and gauge of the needle.
Other points to note:
- Keep the outside of the syringe clean and dry.
- Throw away the syringe if the needle is bent or dull or if it has come in contact with any surface other than your skin.
- Be sure to check your skin around your injection site for unusual redness or signs of infection.
- Never share syringes.
- An insulin pen should not be stored with the needle still attached, as this can lead to insulin leakage and air entering the cartridge.
Talk to your healthcare provider to determine the right types of syringe and needle for you.
Needles are usually available in lengths of 6mm, 8mm, 10mm and 12.7mm. Choosing the appropriate length of insulin needle is essential as it can vary the insulin absorption. It is preferable to use the 6mm or 8mm needles. The pain that you may feel when you inject depends on the insulin dose, where you inject, the amount of fatty tissue under the skin, and other factors.
Discuss with your healthcare provider about which needle length is best suited to your needs.
Needle gauge (G) tells how thick a needle is. The higher the gauge, the thinner the needle. For example, a 31G needle is thinner than a 28G needle. Some people prefer 30 or 31G needles because they are finer. Others may prefer 28G needles because they are less likely to bend.
For the finer 31G needles, caution is required when injecting, as the needle-end may bend into a hook and cause laceration to the tissue or skin if injection procedure is not done properly.
Do not re-use syringes or needles. Discard needles after injection. To prevent injury, it is important to dispose used needles appropriately (e.g. Put the cap back after use, place the needle into a bottle or container) instead of throwing them into the waste bin with the needles exposed. When the container is nearly full, it should be covered and taped before disposal.
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