Diabetes Expert Advice – The Dirt on Insulin Injections (Part 3)

How to use insulin pens – properly.


Welcome to the third segment of this series!

From syringe+vial to insulin pens, the research in diabetes has made immense progress over the past decades. Small, discreet, portable, and mostly painless, many people are making the switch to insulin pens. Despite the easy-to-use features that come with this device, a proper technique from the user is still required.

Are you doing everything by the book?

Priming Needles

You’ve probably seen nurses on TV priming needles before nonchalantly poking you.

And you should, too.

Air bubbles can penetrate the insulin cartridge when the needles are not removed from the pen after the injection. To ensure that the adequate dose of insulin is given (and that you are not simply shooting air into your body), it is necessary to prime the needle before giving the shot. While people understand the necessity of this step, some of them are reluctant to do so as it pains them to waste the extra insulin.

Trust me: this is not the time to be frugal – your health is at stake!

Leakage Problems?  

According to a 2008-2009 international survey, 43% of the respondents shared that they notice insulin leakage after their injections. While some studies indicate that insulin leakage is not associated with the length of the needles or the duration of the injection, other people say otherwise.

Did you know?

If the required insulin dose is relatively high, your doctor may recommend you to count beyond 10 to ensure that the full dose is delivered.

Leaving the needle for a short amount of time can cause the remaining insulin to “leak” when it is pulled out, especially if it is removed in a hurry. Therefore, it is recommended to count to 10 and to inject insulin at a slow pace to ensure that the full dose is delivered. It is possible to notice some leakage despite following every step correctly. Depending on the amount of insulin that is leaked, it might be enough to affect glycemia. Even so, people who notice leakage should not proceed with a second injection, but rather keep a close eye on their blood sugar, and discuss with their healthcare provider about this issue.


BD Medical Technology. URL Link. Accessed February 21, 2017.


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