By American Diabetes Association

Many people use syringes to inject insulin. They’ve been around for ages! Syringes are made of a disposable plastic tube with a needle on the end. You insert the needle into a vial of insulin and draw up the insulin into the syringe. Syringes hold a variety of insulin amounts or doses, so choose a syringe that holds your entire dose of insulin. For example, if you take a 40-unit dose, don’t choose a 30-unit syringe.

diabetes-syringe
Illustration by Kathryn Born, MA

An insulin syringe and vial of insulin.

Your syringe will also come with a needle. Needles can vary in length and diameter (also called gauge). Your healthcare provider can help you choose the optimal needle based on comfort and efficacy.

After you’re done with your syringe, dispose of it properly as medical waste. Don’t just throw it in your kitchen trash (ick) because it could poke someone carrying out the garbage or your garbage collector and spread disease. Instead, use a puncture-proof container like an old liquid detergent bottle at home or buy a convenient travel container for disposing of syringes when you’re on the go.

Fear of needles is a common concern among people starting insulin. You’re not the only one who gets the heebie-jeebies when looking at a sharp needle. Don’t keep these feelings inside. Tell someone on your healthcare team, such as a diabetes educator, nurse, or pharmacist, who can offer specific tips for overcoming this fear.