Learning to draw up and give insulin takes practice. Families often start by doing "air" shots into a doll for practice. Next they practice drawing up sterile salt water (saline) and injecting each other. This helps family members realize that the shot is not very painful. Children below age 10 usually do not draw up insulin by themselves as they do not have the fine motor abilities and concern for accuracy. Your child will need your help.
There are several brands of disposable insulin syringes with varying needle widths and lengths. Insulin syringes should have thin, short, sharp needles so they are easy to insert.
The amount of insulin a syringe can hold also varies. Insulin is measured in units. Syringes have markings on the side that measure the units. There are even some syringes that have markings for half units.
Your healthcare provider will show you how to draw the insulin into the syringe.
These are the steps:
Continue with steps 8 and 9 if you need to add an intermediate-acting insulin to the same syringe. If you want to have both hands free, you can leave the syringe stuck in the rapid-acting insulin bottle until you have mixed the intermediate-acting insulin.
One problem with insulin bottles is that a vacuum can develop that will draw the insulin in the syringe back into the bottle. To avoid this problem, you can do one of two things:
Pick one consistent day of the week to vent the bottles.
Rapid-acting insulin (Humalog, NovoLog, Apidra) peaks in 90 to 100 minutes. The blood sugar from food peaks in 60 minutes. It is best to inject the insulin 15 to 30 minutes before eating if the blood sugar is above 80 mg/dl (4.4 mmol/L). If the blood sugar is below that level, the insulin dose can be given right before or right after eating.
Insulin is injected into the fat layer beneath the skin. The best places to give insulin are the belly, arms, thighs, and buttocks. You should change where you give the shots each time. There are different sites where you can give the shots and different places within each site for shots. For example, the thigh is one site and there might be 6 different places on the thigh that you can use. This way your child can have a shot in over 50 different spots before having to have a shot in the same place again. This is called rotating the shots. Rotating injection sites helps prevent swelling.
It is important to learn the proper technique for giving an insulin shot.
To inject the insulin:
Ideally, insulin should be stored in the refrigerator and warmed to room temperature before you use it. You can warm it up by holding a filled syringe between your hands for a minute or two. If you warm the insulin to room temperature, it’s less likely to sting or cause red spots on the skin.
Research has shown that insulin stored at room temperature loses a small percentage of its potency every month. For most people, this small change will not make a difference.
Watch your child's blood sugar levels carefully when the insulin bottle is almost empty. If the blood sugars start to be unusually high or low, the last bit of insulin should be thrown out.
Insulin will spoil if it gets above 90°F (32.2°C) or if it freezes. Insulin bottles and pens should not be left in a car in the summer or winter.
Throw insulin away if:
Plastic syringes are recommended for one-time use only. If for some reason you need to reuse a syringe, after giving the shot, push the plunger up and down to get rid of any insulin left in the needle. Wipe the needle off with an alcohol swab. Put the cap over the needle and store the syringe and needle in the refrigerator until ready for the next use.
Needles of syringes that are reused several times may get dull from going through the rubber stopper on the insulin bottle over and over. A dull needle may cause more damage to your child's skin and tissues. There is also a possibility of infection if you reuse syringes.