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How to Inject Insulin at Home

How to Inject Insulin at Home

Insulin and oral blood sugar lowering medications are lifesavers for people with diabetes. Unfortunately, insulin cannot be given orally. This is because it is a biologic that contains enzymes and proteins that would get degraded by the stomach’s acid. This article will guide you how to inject insulin at home.

As for now, insulin is only available as an injectable. There are several types of insulin delivery systems, including vials with syringes, pre-filled syringes, pumps, pens, and jet injectors. Whichever delivery system you decide to use, it is important to know how to get insulin shots at home.

The following guide is suitable for both patients who are self-administering and caretakers.

how to inject insulin at home

Pre-Injection Steps

  1. Firstly, you need to double-check the label and packaging. If you are a caretaker, this is especially important if you are in charge of multiple patients. Each person in your care will likely have different types and doses of insulin.
  2. Check the syringe, pen, or whichever delivery system you are using. Make sure the needle is not bent or broken. Check the size of the needle you need to use, as the size can determine the injection technique.
  3. If the insulin was stored in the refrigerator, allow it to sit at room temperature for 15-30 minutes. Do not inject cold insulin. This may cause some pain and discomfort once injected.
  4. Finally, wash your hands and get the supplies ready. Having everything nearby makes injecting insulin easier. Aside from the insulin and needle, you should also have alcohol swabs or alcohol and cotton balls. If you are a caretaker, it is best to wear gloves.

Drawing and Injecting Insulin at Home (vial and needle delivery)

  1. Gently roll the vial, if necessary. Do this if it has not warmed up to room temperature after being removed from the refrigerator.
  2. Wipe the top of the vial using alcohol.
  3. Pull back the plunger of the needle until the plunger seal is aligned with the correct unit for the dose.
  4. Insert the needle into the vial in a vertical position (90-degree angle).
  5. Push the plunger down slowly. This places air into the vial which will allow you to draw the insulin easily.
  6. Invert the vial and syringe (hold it upside down, still in a vertical position). Pull the plunger back slowly again to draw up the necessary dose of insulin.
  7. Examine the syringe without taking it out of the vial. Ensure that there are no air bubbles and that the dose is correct. Gently tap the syringe to remove air bubbles. Pull the plunger back to draw more insulin or push it in to remove excess insulin.
  8. Select the desired injection site. Wipe the area with alcohol and allow it to dry.
  9. Pinch the skin up with your opposite hand. Use the space between your thumb and index finger to gather the skin. This reduces pain and ensures that the insulin is injected into the fatty layer rather.
  10. Finally, quickly but gently push the plunger in to administer the insulin dose. Then, insert the needle at a 90-degree angle or perpendicular to the skin.
  11. Remove the needle after the dose is administered. Recap the needle and throw the used alcohol swabs, cotton, syringe, and gloves into the correct trash bin and sharps container.

how to get insulin shots at home

How to Inject Insulin at Home with a Pen

  1. Remove the pen cap.
  2. Wipe the stopper using an alcohol swab.
  3. Get and unwrap the correct pen needle.
  4. Align the pen needle with the pen stopper.
  5. Pierce the center of the cartridge and screw on the pen needle
  6. Remove the outer and inner shield or covering of the pen.
  7. Follow the pen manufacturer’s specific directions to prepare the pen.
  8. Select the desired injection site. Wipe the area with alcohol and allow it to dry.
  9. Finally, inject the needle of the pen into the prepped site. Note that not all pen needles require pinching. Pen needles of smaller gauges and lengths (≤31G and ≤5mm) do not not need to be pinched.
  10. Remove the needle after administering the dose. Recap the needle and throw the used alcohol swabs, cotton, pen, and gloves into the correct trash bin and sharps container.

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Step-by-Step Patient Injection Guide https://www.bd.com/resource.aspx?IDX=11020&CMP=PIG Accessed November 9, 2020

Insulin Injection Know-How: Learning How to Inject Insulin https://www.diabeteseducator.org/docs/default-source/legacy-docs/_resources/pdf/general/Insulin_Injection_How_To_AADE.pdf Accessed November 9, 2020

Injecting Insulin: Taking shots safely, correctly, and with little or no pain https://clinical.diabetesjournals.org/content/31/1/46 Accessed November 9, 2020

Syringes and Needles https://pharmlabs.unc.edu/labs/parenterals/syringes.htm Accessed November 9, 2020

Using Insulin Pens and Pen Needles https://www.bd.com/resource.aspx?IDX=23379 Accessed November 9, 2020

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Written by Stephanie Nera, RPh, PharmD Updated Jun 10, 2021