An insulin pen is a device that you use to give yourself insulin shots. People with Type 1 Diabetes cannot produce their own insulin, which balances the body’s blood sugar levels. When their levels are outside the normal range, they need to inject insulin to correct the issue.
Unlike syringes, insulin pens have prefilled cartridges of insulin. An insulin pen looks just like a regular pen – it’s long and thin and can fit right in your pocket. Inside is a needle and a cartridge containing insulin.
You can get a disposable or reusable pen. Disposables have a prefilled insulin cartridge, and you throw them away after one use. Reusable pens accept replaceable insulin cartridges. After use, you throw the cartridge and disposable needle away and install new ones in the reusable pen.
Some of the most popular insulin pens include the following:
Insulin pens are good until their expiration date. Cartridges last around a month, typically 28 or 32 days. You should never use expired insulin or cartridges you believe were compromised by extreme heat or cold.
Needles for insulin pens are disposable, and most pens require you to change the needle every three to four injections. For most Type 1 Diabetics who inject twice a day, that means changing out the needle every other day. Talk to your doctor about the frequency of changing needles. He or she may recommend changing the needle after each use.
You can purchase needles for insulin pens at most drugstores and pharmacies around the country. Some brands on insulin pens may require you to use a certain size needle, but you can often choose the size based on your comfort.
For example, you may prefer a longer needle that goes deeper into the skin. Likewise, you may have a preference for the needle’s gauge. A thinner (higher) gauge needle usually means less pain, but a thicker (lower) gauge needle administers medication faster.
An insulin pump is an alternative to multiple daily injections through a pen. A pump is a smart device you wear on the surface of your skin that delivers insulin through a small tube injected into your skin. It sends continuous insulin shots through this tube as needed to mimic the body’s natural response.
The insulin pump can be used in conjunction with a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) to provide the most autonomous management of glucose levels and insulin injections.
In the next slide, learn about a few key accessories that can help you manage your condition and prevent some of the most common side effects of diabetes.