Injecting Insulin

Injecting insulin is a regular activity for many people with diabetes
Injecting insulin is a regular activity for many people with diabetes

Injecting insulin is an essential part of the daily regime for many diabetics.

Although insulin that can be inhaled is now available and approved, the reality is that most type 1 diabetics (and type 2 diabetics who require insulin) will have to continue injecting insulin until it is more common.

Does injecting insulin hurt?

Needle technology for insulin injection has become much better in recent years, meaning that the injection process, although not pain-free, does not hurt as much as it used to.

Many patients still find injecting insulin to manage their diabetes an unpleasant process, however.

Is injecting insulin and having diabetes going to change my life?

Unfortunately, having diabetes does lead to lifestyle complications.

For insulin therapy to be effective, it is necessary to make certain lifestyle changes.

These should include:

  • eating healthily
  • exercising regularly
  • testing blood glucose regularly
  • and following a strict insulin regimen

Although adhering to all these changes does influence your daily routine, the benefits for diabetics are enormous.

Into what part of my body should I inject insulin to best help my diabetes?

The abdomen is the most common site for injecting insulin. For some people, this site is not suitable, and other sites must be used. These include the upper arms, the upper buttocks and the outside of the thigh.

All of these sites are most effective because they have a layer of fat to absorb the insulin better. This process directly injects insulin into the subcutaneous tissue. These areas also have fewer nerve endings, meaning that they are the least painful areas in which to inject.

Should I switch the site where I inject insulin?

Your healthcare team should be able to help you to decided the best places to inject insulin, when you should rotate them, and where to. Some diabetics use different sites for different types of insulin injection. Insulin is absorbed differently through the various injection sites.

Some sites are better for rapid absorption (abdomen), whereas others are better for slow absorption (thighs, hips.)

Injections should be moved around in one area, changing sites completely once every week or two. Make sure that each injection is an inch and a half away from the last one. Use the same area for at least a week, and be aware that the injection site will affect blood sugar levels.

Is it possible to inject insulin through clothing?

There are several reasons why injecting insulin through clothing is a bad idea, however convenient it may seem. Both syringes and pens are lubricated in order to make them as painless as possible. Clothing can remove this lubrication, meaning injections can be more painful.

Clothing is not sterile, and substances on the clothing may contaminate the needle and at its worst this can lead to infection. Furthermore, clothing can damage the effectiveness of the needle by dulling the tip.

Possibly most seriously, clothing restricts your view of the injection site, leaving the patient unaware of the effectiveness of their injection.

A member of my family is diabetic and wants me to help them inject insulin, how should I do this?

Knowing the proper techniques, having formal training from a nurse, understanding their requirements and making sure that you keep hygiene at the forefront of your mind are all important factors when injecting another person.

What does aspiration mean?

Aspiration involves pulling the plunger of the syringe back once it is injected to see if blood enters the barrel of the syringe. Blood means a need to shift to another site.

However, aspiration is no longer needed when injecting insulin, according to medical experts.

Should I pinch the skin at the injection site in order to reduce leakage when injecting insulin?

When a needle penetrates the skin, tiny holes in the skin and fat beneath are created. There is a possibility that insulin can leak from these holes when the needle is removed. If you pinch the skin before injecting, the lined-up nature of the holes is disrupted, meaning improved effectiveness.

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