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Giving Yourself an Insulin Shot for Diabetes

For those with diabetes, an insulin shot delivers medicine into the subcutaneous tissue -- the tissue between your skin and muscle. Subcutaneous tissue (also called "sub Q" tissue) is found throughout your body.

Please follow these steps when using an insulin syringe. Note: these instructions are not for patients using an insulin pen or a non-needle injection system.

insulin shot

Gather Insulin Supplies

Select a clean, dry work area, and gather the following insulin supplies:

  • Bottle of insulin
  • Sterile insulin syringe (needle attached) with wrapper removed
  • Two alcohol wipes (or cotton balls and a bottle of rubbing alcohol)
  • One container for used equipment (such as a hard plastic or metal container with a screw-on or tightly secured lid or a commercial "sharps" container)

Wash hands with soap and warm water and dry them with a clean towel.

Prepare the Insulin and Syringe

  • Remove the plastic cap from the insulin bottle.
  • Roll the bottle of insulin between your hands two to three times to mix the insulin. Do not shake the bottle, as air bubbles can form and affect the amount of insulin withdrawn.
  • Wipe off the rubber part on the top of the insulin bottle with an alcohol pad or cotton ball dampened with alcohol.
  • Set the insulin bottle nearby on a flat surface.
  • Remove the cap from the needle.

If you've been prescribed two types of insulin to be taken at once (mixed dose), skip to the instructions in the next section.

  • Draw the required number of units of air into the syringe by pulling the plunger back. You need to draw the same amount of air into the syringe as insulin you need to inject. Always measure from the top of the plunger.
  • Insert the needle into the rubber stopper of the insulin bottle. Push the plunger down to inject air into the bottle (this allows the insulin to be drawn more easily). Leave the needle in the bottle.
  • Turn the bottle and syringe upside-down. Be sure the insulin covers the needle.
  • Pull back on the plunger to the required number of units (measure from the top of the plunger).
  • Check the syringe for air bubbles. Air bubbles in the syringe will not harm you if they are injected, but they can reduce the amount of insulin in the syringe. To remove air bubbles, tap the syringe so the air bubbles rise to the top and push up on the plunger to remove the air bubbles. Recheck the dose and add more insulin to the syringe if necessary.
  • Remove the needle from the insulin bottle. Carefully replace the cap on the needle.

How to Measure a Mixed Dose of Insulin

Your doctor may prescribe two types of insulin to be injected at once for diabetes. This mixed dose may provide better blood sugar control for some people.

WebMD Medical Reference

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If the level is below 70 and you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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