What is Insulin?

Insulin is a hormone made up of proteins and is naturally produced by the body to convert the food we eat into energy. You need insulin injections if you have diabetes because your body is unable to produce enough insulin or can’t store it properly. The type of insulin syringes you need depends on your condition. As there are different types of insulin, there are also different ways of injecting it.

When you don’t have enough insulin in the blood, sugar will build up in your blood because it can’t be used by the cells as energy. Remember that to be used by the cells, sugar needs to be converted first by insulin. Unconverted sugar stays in the blood and can cause long term complications. Aside from regulating blood glucose, insulin also helps in repairing and building your muscles. Insulin brings amino acids (an important unit of protein) to your muscles whey they are being repaired or injured. Decreased insulin in the blood can make you weak because your muscles can’t fully heal.

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Types of insulin

There are currently four types of insulin that are prescribed by doctors. Your health condition and type of diabetes that you have dictate what type of insulin you need.

Rapid-Acting – commonly taken before meal to avoid blood glucose elevation from eating. This is often combined with long-acting insulin. Available brands: Insulin lispro, (Humalog), Insulin glulisine (Apidra) and Insulin aspart (Novolog).

Short-Acting –just like rapid-acting, also taken at least 30 minutes eating to control blood sugar levels during meals. Available brand: regular insulin (Humulin R, Novolin R).

Intermediate-Acting –when the effect of rapid-acting insulin wears off, this type is usually taken. It controls blood sugar level for at least 12 hours. It is often combined with long-acting insulin. Available brands: NPH insulin (Humulin N, Novolin N)

Long-Acting –when rapid-acting insulin stops working, this lowers blood glucose. Lasts for 20-26 hours without peak. It is often combined with short-acting and rapid-acting insulin. Available brands: Insulin glargine (Lantus); Insulin detemir (Levemir).

Insulin syringes, pens and pumps are used to inject insulin in the fatty tissue just under the skin. Syringe is the most common way of administering insulin. Guide in using insulin syringes:

• 100-unit syringe marks 2 units of insulin per line

• 50-unit syringe marks 1 unit of insulin per line

• Use a large syringe that can hold a whole dose of insulin that you need

• Use a 30-unit syringe if you need 30 unit of insulin; 50-unit if you need 50 units of insulin or less

• If your insulin dosage has a ½ unit, use a syringe with ½ unit marks.

• Make sure the markings on your syringe are clear

• Insulin syringes don’t require prescriptions

• If you have hand injuries or arthritis, talk to your doctor about other options

• The length of standard needle is ½ inch

• There are 5/16 – inch and 3/16-inch lengths available

• For children’s use, a 3/16-inch length is recommended

Injecting Insulin

• Inject insulin in varying sites because repeated trauma to the area can cause changes in the fatly layer under the skin. For aesthetic reasons, some people don’t like how it looks, but more importantly, it affects the absorption time of insulin.

• The abdomen area has better insulin absorption

• To avoid pricking your muscle, pinch up some skin and fat and inject in that area. Puncturing the muscle would hurt and may result to low blood sugar as the insulin will be absorbed faster in the muscle.

• Aim for 45º or a 90º angle when injecting.

• You don’t need to wash or wipe your skin with alcohol when injecting insulin, as long as the area is clean and covered.