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Diabetes Health Center

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Types of Insulin Delivery Systems


WebMD Feature

You need insulin to control your diabetes. But there are a few decisions you and your doctor still need to make, including how you take that insulin.

The options include pens, syringes, pumps, jet injectors, and an inhaler.

Choosing an Insulin Delivery System

People often make their choice based on what their health insurance will cover, says Vivian Fonseca, MD, professor of medicine at Tulane University School of Medicine.

Your insurance may only pay for one type of insulin delivery system. If you want a different option, you'll have to pay for it on your own.

Aside from your insurance coverage, your choice should be based on which system you feel most comfortable with, Fonseca says.

"There are people who handle syringes better than others," he says. "And while many do well with pumps, some patients either don't like them or don't manage to use them effectively."

Insulin Syringes

You use one of these to inject insulin into your body with a very fine needle.

Pros:

Flexibility. You can choose from different types of needles and syringes. You can also use them with just about any kind of insulin.

Cost savings. A box of 100 syringes costs about $10 to $15. They’re also more likely than other delivery systems to be covered by your insurance.

Cons:

Time. "The real problem with the syringe is the amount of steps you have to take," Fonseca says. Before injecting you need to fill the syringe with air, attach the needle, and draw the correct dose of insulin into the syringe.

Dosing mistakes. "The syringe is totally manual, and it possibly leads to more errors," Fonseca says. It's up to you to make sure you inject the right dose.

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