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Diabetes Health Center

Select An Article

Giving Yourself an Insulin Shot for Diabetes

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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 Do not shake the bottle, as air bubbles can form and affect the amount of insulin withdrawn.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.
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