insulin pen

If you need to take insulin, chances are you need to give yourself injections. Injecting yourself can be scary, especially for the first time. The truth is that insulin injections are not as painful as you imagine because the needles are short and thin.

An insulin pen is a device that makes injecting insulin easier and more convenient for you compared to using a syringe.

Advantages of Insulin Pens

  • easy to use and carry around
  • no need to draw insulin from a vial (bottle)
  • easy to adjust dose
  • less wastage of expired insulin
  • look less scary than a syringe
  • do not require refrigeration as long as you keep it out of direct sunlight in room temperature (only new unopened insulin pens require refrigeration)

Disadvantages of Insulin Pens

  • more costly than syringes
  • cannot mix different types of insulin in a single prescribed dose

There are two types of insulin pens:

  • Disposable pens contain a prefilled insulin cartridge and are thrown away when the cartridge is empty.
  • Reusable pens come with an insulin cartridge that can be replaced each time it is emptied.

The insulin pen you need will depend on the type of insulin you require and the number of units you typically need per injection. Ask your doctor to help you choose the best option.

As the needles come in different lengths and thickness, your doctor should also decide which needle is best for you.

Related: Caregiving for Diabetic Patients

Follow These Steps to Use an Insulin Pen

breakdown of insulin pen parts  

Before you start, prepare these items:

  • insulin pen — check its expiry date
  • pen needle
  • alcohol swap or cotton ball moistened with alcohol
  • puncture-proof plastic container with a screw-on cap (e.g. shampoo or pill container) for putting away sharp needles

Step 1. Prepare the Insulin Pen

insulin pen preparation guide 
  1. Wash your hands with soap and water.
insulin pen preparation guide 
  1. Remove the pen cap.
insulin pen preparation guide 
  1. Check the insulin to make sure it is what your doctor has prescribed.

insulin pen preparation guide 
    • Intermediate or long-acting insulin will appear cloudy. Roll the pen between your palms until the white powder has disappeared. Or you can turn the pen up and down gently a few times.

insulin pen preparation guide 
  1. Wipe the tip of the pen with an alcohol swab.

Step 2. Remove Tab and Needle Covers

insulin pen preparation guide 
  1. Remove the protective pull tab from the needle and screw the needle onto the pen.
  2. Remove the needle cap.

Step 3. Clear Air from Needle

insulin pen preparation guide 
  1. Looking at the dose window, turn the dosage knob to one or two units.
insulin pen preparation guide 
  1. Holding the pen up with the needle pointing upwards, then press the injection button all the way until you see a drop of insulin at the needle tip. The dosage knob should be back at zero after completing this step.

Step 4. Dial your Insulin Dose

insulin pen preparation guide 
  1. Turn the dosage knob to dial the number of units of insulin you need.

Step 5. Inject the Insulin

insulin pen preparation guide 
  1. Choose your injection site.
insulin pen preparation guide 
  1. With one hand, hold the pen such that your thumb is free to reach the injection button.
insulin pen preparation guide 
  1. With the other hand, gently pinch up the skin around the injection site. Insert the needle at a 45 to 90 degree angle. Ask your doctor or nurse which angle is best for you. While keeping the needle under the skin, press the injection button all the way to zero. Keep pressing for six to ten seconds.
  2. Pull out the needle. Use an alcohol swab to press gently if you bleed when the needle is removed. Do not rub the injection site.

Step 6. Throw Used Needle and Store the Insulin Pen

insulin pen preparation guide 
  1. Replace the needle cap before unscrewing the needle from the pen. NEVER leave the needle on the pen when not in use.
  2. Throw the used needle into the container and screw on the cap. Keep the needle container safely away from children and pets.
  3. Replace the pen cap and store the insulin pen.

With each use, injecting yourself with an insulin pen will become easier.

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