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What should I know about insulin syringes for diabetes treatment?

Insulin treatment requires using either a pen prefilled with insulin or a syringe to draw up insulin. Many people with diabetes prefer to use insulin vials and syringes because it is more cost efficient or because it is approved by their insurance.

When using a syringe for insulin, there are marks on the side of the syringe that indicate units and will help insure the appropriate dose is given. It is important to use a new syringe and needle for every injection, avoid injecting in scar tissue and rotate injection sites.
Giving an injection -- to yourself or to someone else -- might be scary at first. You may worry about doing it wrong or worry that it will hurt. With practice, patience, and the help of your healthcare providers, you'll soon feel more comfortable.

To inject your insulin, you'll use disposable (throw away) syringes. The syringe needles are short, thin, and very sharp. This helps the needles go in easily -- and makes the shots less painful.

There are several different brands of insulin syringes. There are syringes with different needle lengths and different widths (gauges). Your doctor or diabetes educator will give you some syringes to take home. Eventually, you'll need to buy more.

As you first learn to take insulin, you only need to keep the following in mind:
  • LOOK at the lines and numbers on the barrel of the syringe. These show the amount of medication inside. You need to look carefully to make sure you're getting the right amount (dose) of insulin for each injection.
  • DON'T re-use your insulin syringes. This helps ensure that the syringe is sterile (clean) and that the needle is very sharp every time.
  • DO throw them away in a heavy container that the needles won't poke through -- like an empty coffee can or a plastic bleach container.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.