If you’ve been prescribed basal insulin for diabetes mellitus, you’re probably required to inject it directly into your bloodstream using basal insulin needles. This can be a daunting task because most people generally don’t deal with injections on a daily basis. Here are a few important pointers to keep in mind.
1. Choosing the Right Basal Insulin Needles
When buying the best basal insulin needles for you, most medically certified brands and types will work competently to deliver your dose. But the quality of your experience and rate of absorption wholly depend on your budget.
Choose thinner, sharper basal insulin needles for the least amount of pain during injections. These have higher gauges and are more expensive. But even the sharpest basal insulin needles can dull after a single use, and Western Carolina University recommends that you reuse basal insulin needles only once more. That means you effectively cut your expenses for basal insulin needles by half every month by reusing them once, but you’ll most likely also experience more pain during injections.
But regardless of how many times you’ve used your basal insulin needles, you must replace them and any used storage vials every month.
Larger doses of basal insulin can also cause more pain if injected all at once because of the greater pressure. Experts recommend splitting a large dose of 30 units or greater, but doing so means you’ll be using twice as many basal insulin needles.
Experts also recommend you buy short basal insulin needles to avoid penetrating sensitive muscles beneath the target fat, which could cause undue pain. They recommend choosing basal insulin needles that are 6 millimeters or shorter.
As you can see, it all boils down to how much money you can spend on your diabetes mellitus medical expenses every month. The more money you can spare for basal insulin needles, the less pain you’ll feel during each injection.
2. Other Ways to Minimize Pain for a Better Long-term Experience
If you have diabetes mellitus type 1, basal insulin needles will be something you’ll have to deal with for life. If you can learn to make each injection a bit more pleasant, it helps you better live your life in the long run. Lessening the pain you feel during each injection is one such way. Besides choosing the right basal insulin needles and splitting large doses as mentioned above, here are some other important pain-relieving tips you should following during injections:
- Numb the injection area with ice beforehand.
- After drawing the basal insulin into the syringe, let it warm to room temperature for 30 minutes before injecting. Cold, refrigerated basal insulin can add a stinging feeling during the injection.
- After disinfecting the injection site with rubbing alcohol, wait until it completely dries before proceeding. Alcohol causes a stinging sensation to open wounds, like the puncture wounds from basal insulin needles.
- Relax the muscles at the injection site because tense muscles can make your nerves more sensitive. (Read more about this below.)
- Pinch the injection site beforehand to make sure penetration is quick, which should be less painful. But release the pinch before injecting the basal insulin to ensure none leaks out from the puncture wound.
3. Choose the Appropriate Injection Site to Boost Your Basal Insulin Absorption During Injections
Although it doesn’t matter as much for basal insulin as opposed to bolus insulin, you can boost the rate of absorption during injections by choosing to do a few simple things. One is to massage the injection site beforehand to boost absorption (and as stated above, it also lessens the pain).
You should also practice rotating injection sites to avoid lowering the rate of absorption. If you inject into the same exact spot for multiple times, it can lead to irritation, inflammation, and other conditions and chronic damage that can lower the rate of basal insulin absorption. Instead, pick a different spot within the same area (injection site) for the subsequent injections, and only return to the original spot once it’s healed.
But remember to stay consistent with injecting into the same injection site because your body is used to basal insulin being delivered from there. Abruptly changing to a completely new injection site leads to a greater variation in your basal insulin levels.
However, if you’re about to go play tennis and you usually inject into the back of your arm, then you should choose another injection site that’s not going to be used during any activity or exercise you’re about to undergo. The same is true for any activity and the injection site affected.
One of the biggest factors in basal insulin absorption is the actual injection site. Experts say the best absorption site is the abdomen – two inches away from the belly button. This area has the quickest rate of absorption. The buttocks is the injection site with the slowest rate of absorption.
The back of the arm, between the shoulder and the elbow, is the second best injection site with a fast rate of absorption, but it’s difficult to pinch the skin there – which means injections may be more painful.
The outer thighs are the third best injection site with a slightly lower rate of absorption. Choose a spot at least four inches above the knee, but not above four inches from the top of the leg. Also make sure you do the outer thighs and not the inner thighs because they’re filled with more blood vessels and nerves, which would mean more pain when basal insulin needles penetrate the skin.
A Few Final Reminders
If basal insulin needles are lifelong partners for you, staying consistent can be a struggle in the long run. But people are creatures of routine, and incorporating your basal insulin needles into your daily routine can lessen your chances of misdosing.
You can make injection time the same time you do other routine things – like brushing your teeth, flossing, before your daily jog, or other daily activities. You can also set your cell phone alarm to remind you of upcoming doses – the beauty of smartphones is you can keep them on you at all times and they can have multiple alarms set with minimal effort.
To make sure you’re getting the proper dose, inject at a 45-degree angle and keep the basal insulin needle in for a few seconds before pulling out. Doing both ensures less leakage.
Start following these important guidelines to make your basal insulin needle injections more pleasant. You’ll also boost your rate of basal insulin absorption. You can also talk to your doctor and insurance provider about increasing your basal insulin needles coverage because you’d like to feel less pain everyday (and explain that chronic pain can lead to lower mental wellbeing and other negative health consequences).