6 quick tips for using an insulin pen

Are you taking insulin to help control your diabetes? Are you using an insulin pen? Do you know there is a correct way to use your insulin pen?  At the time of transitioning to insulin, your health care provider or diabetes educator should show you how to use your insulin pen.

Insulin is an important part of your diabetes management and adhering to the guidelines set forth by your healthcare team will be vital to keeping your blood glucose in check. Here are some tips to help refresh your knowledge. 

  1. Preparing for an injection, always wash your hands first! Remove your pen cap and wipe the base of the pen with an alcohol swab and also swab the area of your skin where you are planning to inject.
  2. Place your pen needle on the pen, make sure it is on all the way 
  3. Perform an air shot. It is important to remove any air bubbles and ensure the pen needle is working correctly. Before injecting each time, always perform an air shot. Dial your pen to “2” and hold your pen vertically (needle facing up) and shoot the insulin into the air. You should see the insulin coming out of the needle. If you do not see anything come out, dial to “2” again and perform another air shot, if you have to do this 3 times and still nothing is coming out, remove pen needle and place new needle on pen. After you see insulin come out, your pen will now be back at zero, and it is time to dial your dose. 
  4. Dial your Dose: As prescribed by your health care provider, dial the correct amount. 
  5. Injection:  Inject your insulin into the site you discussed with your health care provider, once the needle is in all the way, press the button all the way down and count to 10 and then withdrawal the needle from your skin. 
  6. Remove the needle. Remove the pen needle after each injection and dispose of properly.  Recap pen and put to the side until you are ready for your next dose. 

Once your pen or vial is opened, it can remain at room temperature. Store all the unopened pens in the refrigerator. Lantus, Humalog and Novolog can be left out for 28 days once opened; Levemir can be left out for 42 days once opened. After the allotted days, even if there is still insulin left, you must get rid of any unused insulin. The unopened pens and vials are good until the expiration date on the box. 

Remember when taking insulin, you should always have your supplies with you when you go out. Bring a small bag to hold your meal time insulin, pen needles, glucose meter, and glucose tabs. It is a lot of things to remember but they are important to have so you can be prepared for anything!