Diabetes in Children: Giving Insulin Shots to a Child
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Insulin is available only in an injectable form that is given into the fatty tissue just under the skin. Most people use insulin in an injection, or shot. While it can also be given through an insulin pump or jet injector, this information does not pertain to these devices. Get information from your child's doctor about how to use these properly.
You will need to give your child's insulin injections until he or she is able to give his or her own injections. After you get over the initial anxiety, insulin injections will become a routine part of your day. It's easy to learn the basics of preparing the insulin (drawing it up into a syringe) and then injecting it. The new thinner, shorter needles on insulin syringes make injections much less uncomfortable than they used to be.
The three most important elements of success in giving insulin injections include:
More information about children with diabetes can be found in these topics:
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Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas. It lets sugar (glucose) enter body cells, where it is used for energy. It also helps the body store extra sugar in muscle and liver cells. The stored sugar can be released later and used for energy when needed.
Insulin for injection comes in small glass bottles, or vials, and in cartridges. Both are sealed with a rubber lid. One vial or cartridge contains many doses. To remove a dose of insulin from:
Note: If your child is using a disposable insulin pen, talk with your child's doctor or pharmacist about how to use the pen properly. Giving insulin with these pens is not covered in this information.
To give an insulin injection, the needle is inserted through the skin. The medicine is pushed from the syringe into fatty tissue just below the skin. Insulin usually is injected into the abdomen, upper arm, buttocks, or thigh.
Your child may need to take two types of insulin at the same time. Because most types of insulin that are prescribed to be taken at the same time can be mixed together, you can give both doses in the same syringe.
Test Your Knowledge
Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas.
To withdraw a single dose of insulin from a vial, I need to use a syringe.
To give an injection of insulin, the needle of the syringe is inserted into the skin and the medicine is pushed into the fatty tissue just under the skin.
If your child has type 1 diabetes, his or her body no longer produces insulin. Because insulin is not available, sugar cannot enter body cells to be used for energy. As a result, the blood sugar level rises. Insulin injections are necessary to keep blood sugar levels within a target range when a person has type 1 diabetes.
If your child has type 2 diabetes, either the pancreas isn't able to produce enough insulin or your child's body tissues have become resistant to insulin. Children with type 2 diabetes may need to take oral diabetes pills to control their blood sugar.
Your child with type 2 diabetes may need insulin if eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and taking diabetes pills have not kept his or her blood sugar levels within a target range. Your child may now need insulin injections either alone or in combination with oral medicine.
Test Your Knowledge
In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or the body tissues are resistant to insulin.
Your doctor will help you and your child learn to prepare and give insulin injections. If your child is age 10 or older, he or she may be able to give insulin with supervision. Here are some simple steps to help you and your child learn this task.
To get ready to give an insulin injection, follow these steps.
Prepare the injection
The preparation will depend on whether you are giving one type of insulin or mixing two types of insulin in the injection.
When you are mixing types of insulin to be given in one syringe, follow these precautions.
Prepare the site
Before giving the injection, take the time you need to do the following:
Give the injection
Follow these steps for giving an insulin injection.
View the slideshow on giving an insulin injection into the belly using an insulin pen to see photographs of a child using an insulin pen to give an injection in the belly.
View the slideshow on giving an insulin injection into the arm to see photographs of a child giving an insulin injection in the arm using a syringe.
Cleanup and storage
After giving your child's injection, be sure to:
Other tips for success and safety
Some tips to help you be safe and successful in giving your child insulin injections include the following:
Test Your Knowledge
Review the slideshow of steps for preparing a single dose of insulin. Give a copy of the steps to a doctor or someone else and have the person watch you prepare your child's dose of insulin. Ask the person to tell you how well you did. Repeat this process as many times as you need to. Allow your child to participate in the task, and help him or her learn the skill as well.
Use the same process for preparing a mixed dose of insulin, if your child needs to take two types of insulin in one shot. Review the slideshow of steps for preparing a mixed dose of insulin.
You and your child can practice giving air or water into an orange until you feel comfortable with the steps for giving insulin. Then do the steps in front of a doctor and ask him or her how you did. Practice more if you or your child needs to. If you think that you can do the task well, give your child a dose of insulin while a doctor watches. Let your child do this if he or she is ready to try.
Answer these questions
Answer the following questions to see whether you understand how to prepare and give an insulin injection. Review the slideshows of steps for preparing a single dose of insulin and steps for preparing a mixed dose of insulin before answering these questions.
The first step in preparing insulin from a bottle is to roll the bottle gently between your hands.
When you are preparing a cloudy and a clear insulin to give a mixed dose, which do you put into the syringe first?
Now that you have read this information, you are ready to start preparing and giving insulin injections to your child.
Talk with your child's doctor
If you have questions about this information, take it when you visit the doctor. You may want to mark areas or make notes in the margins on the pages where you have questions.
If you would like more information on preparing and giving insulin injections, the following resources are available:
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