Methods for Giving Insulin
If you hate shots, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, for those with Type 1 diabetes, taking shots is a major part of life. As a parent, the requirement that you poke and stick your child with needles is certainly one of the most difficult adjustments you’ll need to make.
People with Type 1 diabetes have three basic methods on how they get insulin into their bodies on a daily basis: syringes, pens and pumps. Which method you choose will depend on a number of factors including your lifestyle, the insulin regiment prescribed by your physician, the age and maturity of your child, etc.
Syringes used to be the only method to inject insulin and will be familiar to anyone that has ever had a shot. They are for single use only and are typically required when mixing your types of insulin or using once-a-day Lantus insulin. The needles themselves come in a range of sizes, but because insulin only needs to be injected under the skin (and not deeper, into muscles), it is best to use as small of a needle as you can. We tend to use the 8mm / 31g needles and our son doesn’t seem to mind too much.
These are newer to the market and are very convenient to haul around with you. They are especially useful for multiple injections per day regimens where you utilize the same type of insulin and don’t need to mix your insulin. The pen stores the insulin and you simply dial in the dosage that you need, poke the needle under the skin and press down on the end of the pen to release the insulin. These too come with different size needles and we’ve found the .25mm x 8mm needles to be almost pain free.
This is the high-tech approach to administering insulin. Instead of undergoing multiple shots a day, the pump attaches to your body via a catheter and releases a steady flow of insulin throughout the day and night. Then, when you eat, you can release extra insulin to help manage your increased glucose levels. The catheter needs to be changed every 2-3 days.
Many have found that utilizing the pump helps to more tightly manage glucose levels, but others have not liked having something attached to them constantly. It will be a personal choice. However, the pump does require an ability to ‘manage’ it and so many parents wait until their child is a little more mature before placing them on the pump.
All of these methods require the individual (or their parents) to calculate correct dosages of insulin. And none of them allow you to escape the need to poke yourself with a needle. There is on-going research to find less intrusive ways to administer insulin (for example with inhalers), but they are still a ways off into the future.