All You Need to Know About Insulin Pens
All You Need to Know About Insulin Pens

To effectively manage diabetes, some patients need to take insulin shots throughout the day. An insulin pen is an effective insulin delivery system that makes giving these shots extremely easy and comfortable. Insulin pens are quickly gaining popularity in the country. These pens include an insulin cartridge, a disposable needle, and a dial to measure dosage that helps in delivering the exact amount needed by the body.

Insulin pens deliver anywhere between 0.5 to 80 units of insulin at one time. The increments in the dosage can be in half unit, one unit or two units. The maximum dosage, as well as the incremental amount, varies in different kinds of pens.

Types of insulin pens
Primarily, there are two types of insulin pens:

  • Disposable: This contains a pre-filled insulin cartridge. You can discard the pen after injecting it.
  • Reusable: Reusable pens contain replaceable insulin cartridges. After injecting yourself, you can throw away this cartridge and replace it with a fresh one. With proper care, these reusable pens can last for more than a year.

However, you need to use a fresh and disposable needle every time you use the insulin pen. These needles are available in different thicknesses and lengths, and mostly, all of them fit on every kind of insulin pen. It is best to consult your medical practitioner to choose the best type of insulin pen for your needs.

How to choose an insulin pen?
You need to consider several factors before purchasing an insulin pen. Some of these factors are:

  • Type of insulin pen
  • Size of the insulin dosage that it can contain
  • Increments in dosage allowed
  • Material and durability (if you’re buying a reusable pen)
  • Ability to rectify the dosage amount
  • How it displays the remaining insulin levels
  • Size of the numbers mentioned on the dial

How to store an insulin pen?
Storing insulin pens is easy. After their first use, they do not require constant refrigeration, just like vials of insulin. You can store them at room temperature, out of direct sunlight. Discard pens that have been frozen or kept in temperatures above 30 degree Celsius. These pens should never be stored with an attached needle as it affects the needle’s sterility.

It is vital to check the expiry date printed on the pen before purchasing it. You must not use an insulin pen that is past its expiry date. Usually, insulin pens are good for use for 7-28 days after the first dose. However, it would also depend on the type of insulin.

How to use an insulin pen?
If you have never used an insulin pen before, it is best to consult your doctor about it.

Here are some common steps that you need to perform to use an insulin pen correctly:

  • In case of a new pen, take it out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before using it.
  • Check the expiry date as well as the type of insulin it contains.
  • Make sure that the insulin is clear and colorless, and not clumpy.
  • Mix the insulin by softly rolling the pen between your hands.
  • Remove the cap of the pen and clean the top using sterile alcohol. Make sure
  • your hands are clean.
  • Attach a fresh needle to the pen.
  • Remove the needle caps and set up the correct dosage by turning the dials.
  • Double check the dosage amount.
  • Choose a clean site to inject the insulin. Hold the needle at a 90-degree angle, or as instructed by your doctor.
  • Push the inject button and wait for 10 seconds to make sure that your body absorbs all the insulin.
  • Remove the needle and dispose of it.
  • By mistake, if you dial a higher amount of insulin, you can fix it quickly. Some pens allow you to expel the excess insulin whereas others let you reset the dial to zero units and start again.

Do not inject insulin at sites that are bruised or sore. Also, change the injection sites regularly to avoid swelling or the formation of lumps.

Potential risks
It is vital to monitor the dose of insulin. If you dial the wrong dose, you need to keep an eye on your glucose levels after injecting yourself. A higher dosage of insulin may cause your blood sugar level to drop extremely low. Similarly, too little insulin may cause it to shoot up to a dangerous level.

Insulin pens are easy-to-handle, insulin delivery tools that one can buy. However, one has to take a lot of care while using it to avoid any infection. It is essential to consult a medical professional before opting for insulin pens.