How to Make Insulin Easier to Take

Diabetes is a progressive disease and will often include insulin therapy at some point. Starting on insulin is not a sign of failure but simply a change in medications to help control blood glucose. New research has come out that can make taking insulin and other injectable medications just a little easier. 

Know your needle length

Whether you take insulin with a syringe or an insulin pen using a pen needle, it is important for you to know what needle length you are using. You may actually have a longer needle than you need. In the past, it was thought that people who were overweight needed a longer needle to get the insulin where it should go. But insulin is meant to go into fat tissue. So, longer needles can cause the injection to go into the muscle, which both makes the insulin not as effective and hurts more. Research has shown that skin thickness does not vary much regardless of gender or weight status. What this means is that shorter needles are actually recommended for everyone. Currently there are five needle lengths: 12.7 mm, 8 mm, 6 mm, 5 mm, 4 mm. Recommendations now are to use a 4 mm or 5 mm needle length. When using the shorter length needles, no pinch of the skin is needed. If using a longer needle, a pinch may still be needed to avoid an intramuscular injection. Another benefit of a shorter needle length is that the gauge or needle thickness may also decrease. 

More tips

While most injections are not painful, here are a few more tips to keep the pain at bay:

  • Inject room temperature insulin. Once insulin is opened it can be stored at room temperature up to 28 days (depending on the type of insulin). Store unopened insulin in the refrigerator. 
  • If using alcohol to clean your skin, inject only after the alcohol has fully dried. 
  • Use a new needle for each injection. Needles get dull with reuse.

If you are using longer needle lengths, talk with your doctor about a change in your prescription to a shorter needle (4 mm or 5 mm). Insulin is a good, and for many people necessary, diabetes medication. Know how to make it best work for you. 

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