Handling Insulin at Home
Insulin is a hormone that lowers blood sugar naturally produced by the pancreas. People with diabetes do not produce enough of it (type 1 diabetes) or do not respond well to it (type 2 diabetes). And so, they need supplemental insulin that is injected into the skin via a pen or needle.
Such synthetic formulation has a different onset, peak time, and duration depending on the type. It also requires proper storing to remain viable. Here are some of the guidelines for properly handling insulin at home.
Guidelines for the Proper Handling of Diabetes Insulin at Home
Depending on the type of insulin, there may be some subtle differences in how it should be stored and how long it lasts after opening. It’s best to ask your doctor or pharmacist for specifics prior to injecting it.
Right Temperature in Keeping Insulin at Home
Diabetes insulin is sensitive to the extremes of temperatures. It degrades when exposed to light or the heat of the sun. It should not be frozen either.
Unopened and unused insulin should be stored in the refrigerator with a temperature range of 36°F to 46°F. On the other hand, opened insulin should be kept at room temperature, between 56°F and 80°F, inside a bag or plastic that blocks light.
If you suspect that your insulin has been left in extreme temperatures or under the sunlight, do not use it. Discard the bottle or cartridge immediately.
How Long Can Insulin Be Left Unrefrigerated?
If stored properly, insulin will be good until its expiration date. Opened or used insulin, however, are only safe for a limited time. For instance, Humalog (Lispro) and Lantus (Glargine) last only 28 days after opening when left outside the refrigerator. NPH pens and cartridges should be discarded 14 days after opening, 42 days for vials.
Still, consult your doctor about your specific prescription as some types of insulin last for only 10 days.
Proper Handling of Insulin at Home
Know the Strength and Type of Insulin
Knowing the different insulin types and their level of strengths will help you determine how it should look when safe to use. Inspect the vial, pen, or cartridge before each use. Then, gently roll the insulin pen or bottle.
If there are clumps or if the side appears frosted, do not use it and discard it immediately. NPH is the only type of insulin that should look uniformly cloudy. All other types should be clear.
Label Your Insulin Vials
It’s easy to forget when you first opened a bottle, so it’s best to write down the date on it. This will help you know when to discard it.
Check Your Prescription for the Correct Units
If you’re drawing insulin from bottles or vials, it’s best to double-check the prescription for the correct amount of units to inject. And before injection, check the amount you have in your syringe.
Keep Insulin at Room Temperature Before Injection
Cold insulin hurts when injected. If your stock came straight from the refrigerator, leave it for a while at room temperature before drawing it from the bottle.
Change Your Insulin Pump Reservoir
Body heat and the cold can degrade insulin. If you use an insulin pump, keep track of how long and where you wear it. Change your reservoir every 2-3 days or when you change your infusion set.
When in Doubt, Discard
If you’re unsure of the safety of your insulin bottle, it’s best to throw it away and open a new one.
Tips for Insulin Storage at Home
- Use a digital thermometer. The temperature inside a domestic refrigerator may fluctuate and cause your insulin to freeze even when it’s not in the freezer. Temperature fluctuations can also cause deterioration of the synthetic hormone, leaving you with incorrect blood glucose readings. Use a thermometer to ensure that the temperature inside is a stable constant at 39° F or 4° C and does not fall below the freezing point.
- The ideal long-term place of storage of insulin inside the fridge is on the door’s top-shelf where butter, eggs, and cheese are kept. It also helps to have a maximum and minimum temperature monitor inside.
- Do not leave insulin in a parked car. The temperature inside a vehicle is affected by weather conditions and can get extremely cold or hot.
- Make sure to inspect the insulin’s appearance before drawing it from the bottle.
- Keep your insulin in an insulated lunch bag to protect it from extreme cold or heat. It will also make carrying it with you outside the house easier.
- Keep your syringes, cotton balls, glucometer, alcohol, needles, glucometer strips, and other diabetes devices and medication close by your insulin for easy access, especially during an emergency.
- Use only a properly labeled insulin bottle and one that is indicated in your prescription. Switching and mixing insulin types require close monitoring of one’s blood sugar and should only be done as prescribed by a physician.
- Always check the insulin package insert for specific storage information on the type of insulin you are using.
- Discard unopened insulin vial, bottle, pen, and cartridge when they reach their expiration date to prevent accidental usage.
- Always have a bottle in stock. It is important that you don’t run out of insulin at home so you can abide by your doctor’s prescription and to prevent complications such as diabetic ketoacidosis.
In need of insulin stock replenishment? PharmaServe ships insulin, other diabetes medications, and insulin supplies to the North American region via Canada post with a flat rate of $29.99 USD.
Insulin orders are shipped from partner local pharmacies and manufacturers within 1 week of receiving the order prescription copy, and payment. However, keep in mind that the delivery may take up to 4 weeks should any unforeseen disruptions occur.
Note that due to government regulations, individual orders are limited up to a 3-month supply only.
Supporting Your Health With Diabetes Insulin
Knowing how to properly store and use insulins will greatly help in keeping your blood sugar in check. Keep in mind that temperature plays a huge role in maintaining the products’ good quality. And, when in doubt, it’s best not to use your medication and fill a new prescription instead.
Opting to purchase insulin online is also highly advised as most online pharmacy referral companies can monitor your order schedule and notify you when you’re about to run out of stock. It also allows you to have access to a wide range of inventory—generic, branded, and cheaper options.
Don’t wait until the last minute to get your insulin prescription filled. Our team is more than happy to assist you should you have any questions about your insulin medication. Once your insulin prescription is ready, reach out to us at PharmaServe!