How To Overcome The Fear Of Giving Yourself An Insulin Injection
September 28, 2019 by Dr. Barry Simon
Yearly flu shots, immunizations and injections are common situations that awaken needle fears. Some people report being worried about or frightened of receiving an annual needle. However, it is much more challenging to give yourself insulin injections as part of your daily diabetes management. This expert blog will discuss how to overcome fear of insulin injection.
How To Inject Insulin
Before injecting insulin, be sure to check its quality. If it was refrigerated, allow your insulin to come to room temperature. If the insulin is cloudy, mix the contents by rolling the vial between your hands for a few seconds. Be careful not to shake the vial. Short-acting insulin that isnt mixed with other insulin shouldnt be cloudy. Dont use insulin that is grainy, thickened, or discolored.
Follow these steps for safe and proper injection:
When Should I Contact My Healthcare Provider
- You feel or see hard lumps in your skin where you inject your insulin.
- You think you gave yourself too much or not enough insulin.
- Your injections are very painful.
- You see blood or clear fluid on your injection site more than once after you inject insulin.
- You have questions about how to give the injection.
- You cannot afford to buy your diabetes supplies.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
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How Can I Decrease Pain When I Inject Insulin
- Inject insulin at room temperature. If the insulin has been stored in the refrigerator, remove it 30 minutes before you inject it.
- Remove all air bubbles from the syringe before the injection.
- If you clean your skin with an alcohol pad, wait until it has dried before you inject insulin.
- Relax the muscles at the injection site.
- Do not change the direction of the needle during insertion or removal.
Learning To Lower Your Anxiety With Slowed Breathing
Needle phobia awakens your bodys fear response. Your heart races, your breathing becomes shallow and you might become dizzy or lightheaded. A great strategy to calm yourself is to take slow, deep breaths. You can put your hands on your belly and focus your attention on your hands moving up and down with each breath. As your mind wanders, simply bring your attention back to your hands on your belly. You can find many more breathing strategies at YouTube.
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Giving An Insulin Injection
To give an insulin injection, you need to fill the right syringe with the right amount of medicine, decide where to give the injection, and know how to give the injection.
Your health care provider or a certified diabetes educator will teach you all of these steps, watch you practice, and answer your questions. You may take notes to remember the details. Use the information below as a reminder.
How To Store And Dispose Of Your Home Medical Sharps
Dont throw your medical sharps directly into the trash or flush them down the toilet. Put them into a sharps container. You can use an empty, hard, opaque plastic container that has a screw-on cap, such as a laundry detergent bottle. Dont store sharps in glass bottles, soda bottles, milk jugs, aluminum cans, coffee cans, or paper or plastic bags. For more information, read the resource How to Store and Dispose of Your Home Medical Sharps.
Stop using your sharps container when its a little more than half full. Wrap the lid or cap with strong tape to create a more secure seal and keep it from leaking. Label the bottle by writing on it Home Sharps: not for recycling.
If you live in New York City, you can place the sealed container in with your regular trash for collection. Dont put it with your recyclables. If you live in a different county of New York or another state, check with your local department of health. You can also use the resources below to find more information specific to your area.
- Safe Needle Disposal
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How To Give Yourself Vitamin B12 Shots
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Have you ever given yourself an injection?
Until recently, I was squeamish when it came to needles. Perhaps necessity is the mother of injection! I now give myself B12 shots weekly and I would never have guessed how easy and pain-free they are.
Why would anyone need Vitamin B12, or want to give themselves B12 shots? Read this article. You’ll need to see a doctor to assess your need and to get a prescription for your pharmacy. For me, heading into the cooler months of fall and winter, I benefit from the increased energy levels that B12 provides!
I have also been freed from mild dizzy spells, tingling in my extremities, brain fog, and the minor hair loss associated with an under-functioning thyroid. I am also hoping, long-term, to see improvement in the areas of digestion, insomnia, and SIBO.
When To Call Your Healthcare Provider
- The injection site wont stop bleeding.
- You have very bad pain.
- You inject the medication into the wrong area.
- You develop a fever of 100.4 °F or higher.
- You develop signs of an allergic reaction, such as swelling, redness, itching, or a rash.
- You cant use a syringe because the medication is expired, foamy, discolored, cloudy, or has crystals.
- You cant use a syringe because something touches the needle before the injection.
- You cant use a syringe prefilled with Lovenox because it didnt have an air bubble.
- You have trouble giving the injection.
Rotate Your Injection Sites To Avoid Lumpy Skin
If you tend to inject in the same places you may find that your flesh becomes less flexible than usual. This is called lumpy skin and means the insulin wont be absorbed as well.
Avoid having a favourite part of that area to inject into as this greatly increases the risk of lumpy skin. If this is the case, try injecting into surrounding areas, picking a new spot each time.
Each of the main four areas should give a give a good area of flesh to inject into. Using different areas of the body to inject into is insulin injection site rotation
However, you may find you have a favourite part of that area to inject into. If this is the case, try injecting into surrounding areas, picking a new spot each time.
One way to pick a non-lumpy area is to feel or squeeze the skin before injecting insulin If it doesnt feel as supple as it could be, pick a different spot to inject into.
What Are The Clues That You Might Have Needle Phobia
Some common signs and symptoms of needle phobia include:
- You experience lightheadedness, shortness of breath, shallow breathing or a faster heart rate when injecting a needle. These symptoms may start when you are just thinking about injecting insulin.
- You avoid injecting insulin on a daily basis because of fearful thoughts or worry.
- Injecting insulin is the most anxious or stress-inducing part of your day.
General Tips For Administering An Insulin Shot
- Allow the insulin to come to room temperature before injecting, to avoid pain.
- Always use a new syringe and needle or pen needle.
- Always remove the needle before storing your insulin pen.
- Keep your insulin away from extreme hot or cold temperatures and store according to the manufacturers recommendations.
- Check your insulin vial for particles or anything that doesnt look right.
- Dispose of used needles safely.
- Create a plan for rotating injection sites.
- Inject close to your belly button, near bony areas, or where you have a mole, scar, or wound.
- Use the same exact spot repeatedly to inject insulin.
- Let yourself run out of supplies. Always bring extra when traveling.
- Try to use expired insulin, as it may not work effectively.
- Forget to wear a medic alert ID in case you have a hypoglycemic event and cant speak for yourself.
- Forget to carry a rapid source of glucose.
Since insulin is a glucose-lowering medication, you should always be prepared in the event you need to treat a low blood sugar by carrying a rapid acting source of glucose with you, like a juice box, glucose tabs, or hard candy.
How Can I Keep My Blood Sugar Level From Getting Too High Or Too Low
You need to check your blood sugar level regularly using a blood glucose monitor. Your doctor or his or her office staff can teach you how to use the monitor. Youll need to write down each measurement and show this record to your doctor. He or she will use this information to decide how much insulin is right for you.
Blood sugar measurements can vary depending on your lifestyle. Stress levels, how often you exercise, and how fast your body absorbs food can affect measurements. Hormonal changes related to puberty, menstrual cycles, and pregnancy can, too. Illness, traveling, or a change in your routine may mean that you have to monitor your blood sugar level more often.
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Can I Mix Rapid
You can mix a rapid-acting insulin with an intermediate-acting insulin, according to your doctors instructions. Rapid-acting insulin should always be drawn into the syringe first. This will keep the intermediate-acting insulin from getting into the rapid-acting insulin bottle. After mixing rapid-acting insulin in the same syringe with an intermediate-acting insulin, you must inject the mixture under your skin within 15 minutes. Remember to eat within 15 minutes after the injection.
Check The Prefilled Syringe
- Name. Make sure it matches what your healthcare provider prescribed.
- Dose. Make sure it matches what your healthcare provider prescribed.
- Expiration date. Make sure the expiration date hasnt passed.
- Color. Make sure the medication in the syringe is clear and colorless. Dont use it if it looks foamy, discolored, cloudy, or has crystals in it.
If the medication name or dose doesnt match what your healthcare provider prescribed, the medication is expired, or the medication is foamy, discolored, cloudy, or has crystals, dont use the syringe. If you have another, use that one instead. Then, contact your healthcare provider or pharmacist to tell them. You may be able to bring the full syringe to your pharmacy so they can replace it.
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Why Do I Need To Take Insulin
All people who have type 1 diabetes and some people who have type 2 diabetes need to take insulin to help control their blood sugar levels. The goal of taking insulin is to keep your blood sugar level in a normal range as much as possible. Keeping blood sugar in check helps you stay healthy. Insulin cant be taken by mouth. It is usually taken by injection . It can also be taken using an insulin pen or an insulin pump.
How Do I Inject The Insulin
It is important to learn the right way to give an insulin shot. Your healthcare provider or diabetes educator will show you the correct way to inject insulin.
- Always wash your hands with soap and water before you give an insulin shot.
- Keep the insulin shots 1 inch away from a scar or the belly button. Do not give an insulin shot into a spot that is bruised, swollen, or tender.
- If you donât give the shot deeply enough, it can cause a lump, pain, or red spot.
- If you give the shot too deep into the muscle it may be more painful and cause the insulin to be absorbed too quickly.
- You need to avoid injecting insulin into a large vein or artery. This is very unlikely if you are giving shots in the recommended sites. If you do inject insulin into a large vein or artery, the effect of the insulin will last just minutes instead of hours.
- Donât worry about accidentally injecting a small bubble of air. It is not harmful.
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How To Give Yourself An Insulin Injection
We all grew up with some dread about those occasional visits to the doctor and usually it was that fear of getting a shot. Sure it was nice to get a lollipop , but it probably didnt seem like a fair deal, right?
And now that youre faced with giving yourself an insulin injection, dont think that youre unusual or especially cowardly if this appears to be *the worst* element of having diabetes. One consolation, however, is that insulin injections are subcutaneous, meaning the area between the skin and the muscle, so the needles are usually smaller and shorter than youre imagining.
Actually, after the novelty wears off and you have some practice, youll find that it can be a simple and pain-free process. One key to minimizing discomfort is to be quick and confident with your movements, and you will absolutely get better with practice but thats not much consolation when youre first starting out, so lets walk through it step by step, with some helpful tips along the way.
Note: This information is for educational purposes only and is not medical advice. For specific guidance on giving an insulin injection, please talk with your doctor.
Lower Back Hips Or Buttocks
The final site for administering an insulin injection is the lower back or hip.
To administer an injection here, draw an imaginary line across the top of the buttocks between the hips.
Place the needle above this line but below the waist, about halfway between the spine and the side.
As with the upper arm, this site is very difficult to use for self-injection and may require another person for administration. When injecting into the buttocks, avoid the lower part.
The body absorbs insulin at different speeds from each of the sites. This information can be useful when planning insulin injections:
- Abdomen: Insulin enters the bloodstream most quickly after an abdominal injection.
- Upper arms: The body absorbs insulin with moderate speed but slower than an injection in the abdomen.
- Lower back and thighs: Insulin enters the bloodstream most slowly from these sites.
- Administer rapid-acting insulin into the abdomen right after a meal for the fastest results.
Inject long-acting and intermediate-acting insulin into the other sites, as rapid absorption would reduce the effectiveness of these types. Insulin works more efficiently over the entire time it needs to because of the slower absorption rate.
Exercise can increase the absorption rate of insulin. If planning a workout or physical activity, account for these when planning injections.
Wait to for at least 45 minutes after the injection to exercise a part of the body that is near the injection site.
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Can I Reuse My Syringe
You may increase your risk for a bacterial infection when you reuse syringes. Ask your healthcare provider if it is safe for you to reuse a syringe. Do not reuse a syringe if you have an open wound, trouble seeing, or have an infection. The following are tips on how to safely reuse a syringe:
- Recap the needle as soon as you are done using it. Place the cap on a table or hard surface and slide the needle into the cap.
- Do not let the needle touch anything but clean skin or the top of the insulin bottle.
- Never share syringes with anyone.
- Do not clean your needle with alcohol. This will remove the coating that helps your needle slide easily into your skin.
- Throw out any syringe that bends or touches anything other than clean skin.
Measuring And Injecting A Single Type Of Insulin
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When Should I Use An Insulin Pen
To determine when you should inject insulin, pay attention to the times you check your blood sugar, when you eat and what kind of insulin you are taking:
- Check your blood sugar no more than 30 minutes before you eat.
- If you take rapid-acting insulin before meals, inject the insulin when you sit down to eat.
- If you take regular insulin before meals, inject the insulin no more than 30 minutes before the meal.
- If you take intermediate- or long-acting insulin, inject the insulin at the same time each day.
There is no standard or typical dose of insulin. Your dose will be the amount of insulin that you need in order to keep your blood sugar in good control. Your doctor will prescribe an insulin dose that is right for you.
How To Measure A Mixed Dose Of Insulin
Your doctor may prescribe two types of insulin to be injected at once for diabetes. This mixed dose may provide better blood sugar control for some people.
Please follow these steps when injecting a mixed dose of insulin:
Important:This must be an exact measurement. If you withdraw too much cloudy insulin, the total dosage in the syringe must be discarded. Be careful not to push any of the clear insulin from the syringe into the cloudy insulin. If there are large air bubbles after mixing the insulin in the syringe, discard this dosage and start the procedure again. Do not push the insulin back into the bottle.
- Carefully replace the cap on the needle.
- You are now ready to inject the insulin. Follow the steps listed below.
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