Islets of Hope treatment options for persons with diabetes
By Lahle Wolfe
This article is part of a series on insulin pens
Part 3 (Shots and Pens)
ADA Complete Guide to Diabetes: Perhaps the most complete and authoritative resource on diabetes, American Diabetes Association Complete Guide to Diabetes covers everything from how to manage types 1 and 2 and gestational diabetes, to traveling with insulin, sick-day action plans, and recognizing hypoglycemia.
Other contents include information on symptoms, complications, exercise and nutrition, blood sugar control, sexual issues, drug therapies, insulin regimes, and much more. Plus, information for every parent about children, schools, and day care. This updated third edition features new information on medications, diabetes management and new therapies, and new treatments for diabetes complications.
main Treatment Options page
Step-by-step guide to using insulin pens
Types of Insulin Pens
An insulin pen is an insulin delivery (injection) device for the treatment of diabetes. An insulin pen is comprised of disposable needles, a vial of insulin, and the pen portion which the needle is screwed into and houses the insulin cartridge. A number of companies make insulin pens including Novo Nordisk, Aventis and Eli Lilly. These companies produce pens for most their insulins, including Humalog (also known as insulin lispro) and Lantus (see more below). But there are only two different types of systems:
All insulin pens require a needle that you need to change (simply screw a new one onto the pen). As with traditional syringes, pen needles come in various lengths and thickness. Be sure to ask your doctor which one is best for you.
Please read the instructions carefully for your individual pen since they do not all work the same way. Have your doctor of diabetes educator show you how to properly use the particular insulin pen prescribed for you.
How to Use an Insulin Pen (short version)
Pens are simple to use, and even young children (properly trained, and with supervision) can use them with ease. The basics of using an insulin pen include (assuming you are using a disposable pen, or, have already filled the cartridge in a reusable pen):
Step-by-Step Basic Insulin Pen Injection Preparation
Attach a needle to your pen. You should follow the specific directions that came with your pen for attaching the needle. Do not leave needles attached between shots. This permits air to enter the needle which will interfere with correct dosing, or call allow insulin to leak out.
Mix the insulin. Roll the insulin pen between the palms of your hands or tip it back and forth gently at least 20 times to mix the insulin.
Prime your pen. Priming your pen simply means making sure that insulin has actually filled the syrine to the tip. Holding your pen upright (needle pointing straight up) tap it to help any air bubbles rise to the top so that they can be ejected. You can tell if your pen is properly primed and no air bubbles are in the needle by doing an "air shot" That is, simply shoot some insulin into the air, a drop or two will do just fine.
If nothing comes out, do one more air shot. If insulin still doesn't come out of the needle, your pen may be low on insulin, or the needle may not be connected properly. Refer to the directions that come with your pen for troubleshooting tips.
Set your dose. Dial your insulin pen to deliver the amount insulin you need to take (it should click as you turn the dial.)
Your pen is now loaded and ready to use! And you can move on to the next section, "Injecting Insulin."
Page Updated 08/12/2006