Insulin Pens - Types, Advantages & How To Use


Most of the people with type 2 diabetes eventually require insulin. The transition from diet control, lifestyle changes and oral medicines to injecting insulin are not as tough as you might think. One of the most important parts of type 2 diabetes management is controlling one's blood sugar. According to doctors, there could be various scenarios which might require insulin treatment to begin for the patient (especially in cases where the patient has significant hyperglycemia). The need for insulin might be short-term or for a longer duration in case of uncontrolled diabetes where the patient is on multiple diabetic medications .

The most ideal and convenient way of administering insulin is with the help of insulin pens. Insulin pens are a great hit among the working class due to their ease of carrying and administering. Insulin pens are preloaded and relieve you of the tension to draw up insulin into a syringe every time . Read on to know more about insulin pens, its types, benefits and how to use them.

Insulin pens are rapidly growing in popularity. These are used by people to inject insulin in the simplest, safest and painless way. The pens include insulin cartridge, a disposable needle and a dial to measure dosage . Insulin pens are by far the best discovery made in terms of insulin administration when compared to the hassles associated with the vial and syringe method.

Managing diabetes might require you to have insulin shots multiple times a day. Insulin pens do not eliminate the need to poke yourself with a needle, instead, it makes the measuring and delivering of the insulin much easier.

The insulin pens can deliver insulin within the range of 0.5 to 80 units each time. The insulin delivered can be done in increments - one-half unit, one unit or two units. However, the type of pen used might determine the maximum dose possible and the incremental amount . The amount of insulin units in the cartridges also varies.

Disposable insulin pens contain a prefilled cartridge and one would need to throw away the entire pen when the cartridge is empty. On the other hand, reusable pens are the ones where you can replace the cartridge when it is empty .

The needles on insulin pens come in different thicknesses and lengths. However, most fit on all of the available insulin pens. Your doctor would be the best person to guide you as to which pen would suit you the best.

The two categories of insulin pens are as follows:

It is a good practice to use a disposable needle each time insulin is injected. If taken care of properly, reusable pens can last for several years.

It is important to have a discussion with your doctor prior to purchasing the insulin pen. There are several factors, as listed below, which play a role in the brand, model and category of insulin pen that you choose to use.

Some of the general factors to consider are as follows:

Unlike believed and followed by many, insulin pens do not require refrigeration once they have been opened (quite like vials of insulin). However, insulin pens should be refrigerated before their first usage. Once it has been initially used, it is sufficient to store your insulin pen in the room-temperature setting, away from direct sunlight .

Depending on the type of insulin that the pen contains, insulin pens stay in a good condition for a period of about 7 to 28 days (after the initial use) . Nevertheless, keep a check on the expiry date printed on the pen or the cartridge. If it is way past the expiry date, then please do not use the insulin and discard it right away.

Insulin pens should not be stored with the needle attached (even if the needle is new). Doing this could affect the sterility of the needle and also interfere with the insulin dose given.

Each time you take out the insulin pen, do the following prior to using it :

Note: In case you have accidentally dialled in a too high dose of the insulin, then in most of the cases, the insulin pens have the ability to fix the mistake quite easily. Most of the branded insulin pens are designed to expel the excess insulin through the needle without it entering the skin. Few other pens give you the option to reset your pen to zero and then start over again.

Research has proved that prefilled disposable pens are highly beneficial. People with diabetes find the use of insulin pens much more convenient than the conventional vial and syringe technique .

The primary reason being that insulin pens have been designed with such features (for instance dose accuracy and auto-shield needles) that insulin administration has turned convenient and safe.

Research also proves that people who use insulin pens are more likely to read the dosing scale twice, which ensures that accidental wrong dosing does not happen. Insulin pens also facilitate people to stick to their insulin therapy routine better.

Other advantages of using insulin pens are

Some of the drawbacks of using insulin pens are

Insulin pens are cheaper compared to insulin therapy. Pens usually come in packs and you can just buy one at a time. Pens typically cost more than syringes/vials. In India, a single pen can cost you around Rs. 1650 (this might vary depending on the brand of the insulin pen being purchased). Many insulin pens do not come with the insulin cartridge and you might have to buy it separately, which might cost you about Rs. 450.

Keeping a note of the expiry date of the insulin is essential. In case you use insulin that has expired or is not in a usable condition, then the insulin might not work correctly, or could have adverse effects as well. Always ensure that you check the condition of the insulin prior to usage and discard the insulin in case you see any form of tiny particles in it. These particles can plug the needle and prevent the delivery of the full dose of insulin .

Delivery of too much or too little insulin might occur in case you fail to double-check the dose that you have dialled prior to injecting. In case this kind of situation occurs, then monitor your glucose levels closely for sometime after injecting. Too much insulin can make your blood sugar levels drop down too low, whereas too little insulin can make your blood sugar increase to very high levels, which could be life-threatening . Having a glucometer always comes handy in such scenarios.

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