Diabetes Insulin Use Storage

Understanding proper storage and use of insulin can help you manage your diabetes and bring you peace of mind. Whether you choose insulin pens or traditional syringes, learn about safe usage and insulin storage guidelines to follow.

Insulin Storage Guidelines

Most insulin manufacturers recommend refrigerator storage of insulin. Unfortunately, injecting such cold insulin can be very painful. Luckily, insulin stability can be maintained at room temperature for about a month. Many doctors recommend keeping your current bottle of insulin out of the refrigerator.

Here are some basic insulin storage guidelines:

  • Allow refrigerated insulin to come to room temperature before injecting it.
  • Always check the expiration date before using insulin (using expired insulin may be dangerous).
  • Check to make sure you have received exactly the type of insulin your doctor prescribed before using it.
  • If you stock up on insulin, keep future bottles refrigerated.
  • If you use insulin pens, store your unused pens in the refrigerator, and your current pen out of the refrigerator.
  • Keep your insulin away from extreme heat or cold. (Insulin storage guidelines restrict you from storing insulin in the freezer, direct sun or a glove compartment).
  •  Never shake your insulin, as this could cause it to clump or frost.

Use of Insulin: Inspection First!

Visually inspecting your insulin is an important aspect of insulin use. Regular insulin should be clear and colorless, if you’ve followed proper insulin storage guidelines. Don’t ever use regular insulin if it appears:

  • Cloudy
  • Even slightly colored
  • Filled with any solid particles
  • Thickened.

Insulin mixtures should have an even, cloudy appearance after you’ve mixed them gently. Don’t use mixture insulin if:

  • The mixture has particles on the wall or bottom that make the vial look frosted
  • You see clumps in the insulin after mixing.

Use of Insulin: Syringe Safety

Some diabetics can safely reuse syringes and reduce the cost of diabetic supplies. Only your doctor can tell you if syringe reuse is a safe option for you. If you are able to reuse your syringes:

  • Always keep needles capped when you aren’t using them.
  • Don’t let the needle touch anything except your clean skin and the top of your insulin bottle.
  • Never share your syringes with anyone else, under any circumstances.
  • Remember that if you clean needles with alcohol, you’ll remove the coating that helps them easily slide into your skin.

Use of Insulin: Traveling

Proper use and storage of insulin is very important, even when you are traveling. Since insulin stability can be maintained for about a month without refrigeration, you can enjoy vacations anywhere in the world.

Here are a few tips on the use of insulin while you are on vacation:

  • Always wear your diabetes identification bracelet and carry a diabetes identity card.
  • Before your trip, get a letter from your doctor detailing your condition and treatment, along with a prescription for all your diabetes medications in case of emergency.
  • Bring enough insulin, medication and diabetes supplies for your entire trip in a bag that stays with you at all times.
  • Keep well-wrapped snacks with you wherever you go.

Resources

American Diabetes Association. (2010). Insulin storage and syringe safety. Retrieved April 11, 2010, from http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/medication/insulin/insulin-storage-and-syringe.html.

Lilly USA. (2010). Handling and storing insulin. Retrieved April 11, 2010, from http://www.lillydiabetes.com/content/insulin-storage.jsp.