How to Use an Insulin Pen Safely at Home

How To Use an Insulin PenPeople with diabetes need to take insulin as their bodies don’t produce enough of it naturally. One of the most common ways to do this is to inject with an insulin pen. There are two types of pens which you can do this with: disposable pens, which come with the insulin pre-filled, and reusable pens which contain cartridges with insulin in them which you replace once they have run out. There is one key factor that you should remember when using these pens: each pen is not the same so it is of the utmost importance to read the instructions that comes with the pen and how the doctor tells you to use it.

When you first get a pen, your doctor will help show you what to do with it and also the areas where you can inject yourself (usually your stomach or upper thigh). Generally, you have to remove the cap from the pen, check that the insulin looks ok, then clean the area around where you will be injecting into, attach the needle head by screwing onto the pen and removing both caps, you then have to prime the pen and turn the dial to the correct dosage (your doctor will tell you this) and then inject yourself. Once you have injected yourself you need to remove the needle and replace the caps and safely dispose of the used needle.

If you need to inject insulin more than three times a day you will need to be thinking about rotating the sites where you will be injecting as injecting in the same place can lead to hard lumps and extra fat deposits.  Those can be unsightly but can also lead to complications – they can change the way insulin is absorbed into your body which will make it more difficult to keep your blood sugar level on target.

Insulin is absorbed at different speeds, depending on where you inject the insulin. The stomach has the fastest absorption, followed by the arms, then the legs and finally the buttocks with the slowest absorption rate. Another tip is to rotate the sides with each use.  If you are using the right side of your stomach, then after a few days or so change to your left side for a few days.

Always make sure that you NEVER use the same needle twice as this can make the tip of the needle weaker and also the needle itself won’t inject as effectively as a new one.  The most important factor of all: it can lead to infections and cross contamination. To dispose of a needle safely you can purchase a container from your pharmacy or purchasing one of our BD Sharps Containers through our online website . You use it by putting the tip of the needle in the hole on the side of the container and squeeze the main body of the tool which will cut the needle top and keep it safe in the tool’s body.  It leaves you with a needle which can’t hurt or poke out of any bags etc and you can throw the rest of the needle in the trash.

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