preparing a single dose of insulin

Insulin is available in 100 units/mL multi-dose vials (bottles). If you need to take insulin injections, take note that insulin is given by subcutaneous (under the skin) injections and is never injected intramuscularly (into the muscles).

There are many types of insulin. You can know the source of insulin (animal or human) and type (rapid, short, intermediate or long-acting) by reading the label.

Today, most insulin comes from human sources. On the label, this will read as recombinant DNA (rDNA origin). To know the type of insulin, look for the uppercase bold lettering that follows the trade name of the drug, for example, Humulin N (NPH or intermediate-acting) and Humulin U (Ultralente or long-acting).

To Prepare for a Single Dose Insulin Injection, Follow These S teps:

  1. Prepare your supplies and remove your insulin vial from the fridge half an hour before your injection. Check the expiry date. Discard the vial six weeks after opening or as per the manufacturer’s guide.

  1. Wash your hands with water and soap.

  1. If you are using cloudy insulin (intermediate or long-acting insulin), roll the vial between your palms until the white powder has dissolved. Do NOT shake the vial.

  1. Clean the rubber stopper of the insulin vial with an alcohol wipe or a cotton ball dipped in alcohol.

  1. Draw air into the syringe by pulling the plunger down. The amount of air drawn should be equal to the dose of insulin you require.

  1. With the vial standing upright, inject air into the insulin vial.

  1. Turn the syringe and insulin vial upside down, and draw out your dose of insulin. Read the line markings on the syringe to make sure you have got the correct amount.

When in doubt, ask your doctor or nurse to show you how to:

  • choose a syringe size that is right for you

  • read the label on the insulin vial

  • prepare a single dose of insulin using a syringe

  • measure insulin dose

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