Alternative Devices For Taking Insulin
(BlackDoctor.org) — Many people who take insulin to manage their diabetes
inject the insulin with a needle and syringe that delivers insulin just under
the skin. Several other devices for taking insulin are available, and new
approaches are under development. For more information about insulin, see
Medicines for People with Diabetes.
Injection aids are devices that help users give injections with needles and
syringes through the use of spring-loaded syringe holders or stabilizing guides.
Many of these aids use push-button systems to administer the injection.
Insulin pens can be helpful if you want the convenience of carrying insulin
with you in a discreet way. An insulin pen looks like a pen with a cartridge.
Some of these devices use replaceable cartridges of insulin; other pen models
are totally disposable. A short, fine needle, similar to the needle on an
insulin syringe, is on the tip of the pen. Users turn a dial to select the
desired dose of insulin and press a plunger on the end to deliver the insulin
just under the skin.
Insulin jet injectors send a fine spray of insulin through the skin by a
high-pressure air mechanism instead of needles.
Subcutaneous infusion sets, also called insulin infusers, provide an
alternative to injections. A catheter (a flexible hollow tube) is inserted into
the tissue just beneath the skin and remains in place for several days. Insulin
is then injected into the infuser instead of through the skin.
External insulin pumps are devices that deliver insulin through narrow,
flexible plastic tubing that ends with a needle inserted just under the skin
near the abdomen. The insulin pump is about the size of a deck of cards, weighs
about 3 ounces, and can be worn on a belt or carried in a pocket. Users set the
pump to give a steady trickle or “basal” amount of insulin continuously
throughout the day. Pumps release “bolus” doses of insulin (several units at a
time) at meals and at times when blood glucose is too high based on the
programming set entered by the user. They also can be programmed to release
smaller amounts of insulin throughout the day. Frequent blood glucose monitoring
is essential to determine insulin dosages and to ensure that insulin is