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Insulin Pen Precautions to Avoid Insulin Shrinkage or Leakage


Before you use an insulin pen, read the manufacturer's instructions to learn any specific safety precautions that they recommend. Following are some general safety precautions to follow when using insulin pens.

Never Carry a Pen with a Needle Attached 

Achieving your best diabetes control requires accurate insulin doses. Carrying an insulin pen with the needle attached can alter the accuracy of your insulin dose. Keep your pens and needles separate until you're ready to inject and, after injecting, remove the needle immediately.

Insulin Shrinkage

  • Carrying an insulin pen from a warm place to a cold place (for example, from the warmth of outdoors to an air-conditioned building in the summer, or from a warm house to a cold car in the winter) causes the insulin in the cartridge to shrink. 

  • When you carry the pen with needle attached, air goes into the cartridge through the needle, into the space where the insulin had been before (and this will happen even if the needle is capped). 

  • When you inject, the air in the cartridge interferes with the function of the pen and results in an under-dose. You could lose as much as two thirds of your dose. 

  • Even if you prime the pen before injecting, you may not be able to get all of the air out.


Insulin Expansion


When you carry an insulin pen from a cold place to a warm place (for instance, from an air-conditioned room to the outdoors in the summer, or from the cold outdoors to a warm house in the winter), the insulin in the cartridge will expand.

  • If you carry the pen with the needle attached, the expanding liquid leaks from the pen. If you use a cloudy insulin or premix, the insulin particles may have settled in the bottom of the pen; if so, the liquid that leaks out of the needle contains few - if any - particles. 

  • The insulin that remains in the pen cartridge (and that you will inject later) becomes more concentrated than it should be, and it may not have the desired effect on your blood sugar.

Don't Re-Shield Someone Else's Needle 

You could stick yourself by accident.


Never Reuse a Pen Needle. 

Reusing a needle can cause it to weaken to the point where it can break off and become stuck in your skin. (And there are several more reasons why you should never reuse any needle.)


Never Throw Loose Sharps in the Trash at Home or Away From Home 

If your needles, lancets, or syringes are not disposed of safely, they can injure other people.  Proper disposal of sharps is a good habit to get into.

 

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