If you’ve been an insulin user for many years now, then chances are you’re probably well versed in the process. For many people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes the day-to-day procedures involving blood sugar monitoring, insulin injections, and diet restrictions have become second nature.
If this is the case for you, then perhaps it’s time to reassess your diabetes care plan with the following tips and tricks.
A study from the American Diabetes Association (ADA) says that following certain precautions while using pens or syringes can ensure a pain-free, accurate insulin injection every time. Here are some injection tips to help you.
Did you know that air bubbles in a syringe or insulin pen could greatly decrease the amount of insulin you receive? Some experienced insulin users have the tendency to become complacent after years of injections, but you should never lose sight of checking for air bubbles. Doing this before every injection will help reduce the likelihood of your blood sugar swinging too high or too low. Also, try to avoid leaving a needle tip on your insulin pen between injections. And don’t forget to prime a pen with two units of insulin before dosing.
If you notice clear fluid or blood following a painful injection, apply pressure to the site for 10 seconds without rubbing. If this happens, and you feel as if the full insulin dose wasn’t received, check your blood sugar more frequently in the hours following the injection. If painful injections are a persistent problem, consult your endocrinologist or diabetes educator and let them evaluate your injection technique.
If bruising is a problem for you following an injection, shrink the blood vessels by icing the site for one minute beforehand. You may also need to change the angle of your injection, as bruising and pain can occur when you hit your muscle instead of the target area, which is subcutaneous fat. Talk to your endocrinologist about changing your needle prescription if you have frequent bruising. Also, never reuse needles since they can cause increased injury or risk of infection to the injection site.
Rotating Injection Sites
Remember to always rotate and separate injection sites (especially if you favor your stomach; injections near the navel can lead to excess bruising). Injecting in the same area repeatedly may lead to scar formation, which can interfere with how well your body absorbs insulin. And because many insulins cannot be mixed, injecting them in the same area may lead to them not working appropriately. Make sure to specify body areas for different insulins.
If you’re the caregiver to someone with diabetes who is visually impaired, consider prefilling their syringes with insulin. Self-administering should be practiced as much as possible, and this will ensure better accuracy with their injections while helping them maintain their independence. This is also a good practice for those caring for individuals with limited mathematic skills when it comes to proper dosage instructions.
Insulin Pump and CGM Tips
For insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor (CGM) users, taking the proper steps with infusion site changes can make the process go much smoother. Here are some tips to consider.
If you don’t want to use an adhesive on your infusion area to make it stickier for insertion, then use an antiperspirant spray or solid instead. Clean the site thoroughly with an alcohol swab before applying the antiperspirant. Wait at least 10 minutes before inserting your infusion set. Avoid deodorants as the odor-masking chemicals can sometimes irritate the skin.
Don’t cover the tubing or “dock” of your insulin pump or CGM. Cover only the adhesive pad to keep moisture, dirt, and air from interfering and creating a less sticky site.
Sports and Your Pump
If you enjoy participating in sports, try to wear clothing fitted with spandex sleeves. This can help keep your infusion set from slipping or pulling out during exercise. Velcro bands are another good option.
When it comes to where to inject your insulin, take your day-to-day activities into consideration. If you find yourself in an office environment most of the time, avoid the waistband area and secure tubing to avoid snags on doorknobs, cabinets, and other potential hazards. If you’re an avid runner, you may find that your arms would be a better placement area than the legs during a race or training period.
No matter how much time has passed since your diagnosis, there is always room for reevaluation and new things that can be learned when it comes to managing your diabetes.