Insulin storage: 12 hot tips for cool insulin
Insulin is packaged in three ways: in vials, pens and cartridges. Understanding how to handle insulin storage and use after opening is vital in making certain that you get the most out of every drop of this life-saving medication.
When it comes to insulin storage, keep your cool
These twelve tips on storing insulin can help ensure that you get the most out of every dose:
- Keep insulin cool, but never allow it to freeze. Frozen insulin should always be discarded.
- Avoid extreme heat, too. Never store insulin in the glove compartment of a car or in direct sunlight.
- The optimum temperature for insulin storage is between 35 and 46 degrees Fahrenheit. When stored in this way, insulin typically lasts through the expiration date, which is usually between one and two years after purchase.
- Never use insulin that is past its expiration date. Though it might seem just fine, the potency could be compromised.
- Watch the 28 day rule. Once the insulin has been opened, it should be used within about 28 days to guarantee freshness.
- Prefill syringes typically last longer. If you choose to prefill syringes, they can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 30 days.
- Keep at room temperature when in use. To avoid pain upon injection, keep the insulin bottle you are currently using at room temperature.
- Insulin pens should be kept in the refrigerator until ready to use. Once they are opened, you have about 28 days to use them before the potency is potentially compromised.
- Use a small cooler for transportation. When you are transporting insulin vials, use a small insulin cooler or cold packs to keep the medication cool. Several manufacturers make insulin supply bags that are specifically designed for this purpose.
- Know what your insulin's appearance. Some insulin is clear, while other types are cloudy. Make sure you know what your particular type of insulin is supposed to look like. If it has white particles, clumps or otherwise looks strange, don't use it.
- Keep insulin cartridges in the refrigerator. Keep cartridges in the refrigerator until you are ready to use them in your insulin pump. Once they are in the pump, some insulin might last for about 24 hours, while some might give you three to five days of use.
- Read the manuals. When you are trying a new insulin method (switching from syringe injections to the pen, for example), read the detailed information on shelf life and storage to ensure you are handling the new insulin properly.
Insulin is not cheap, so making the most of each vial, pen or cartridge is important. Use these tips to help ensure that you get the maximum efficiency out of each dose.
American Diabetes Association, "Insulin Storage and Syringe Safety"
Wisconsin Department of Health Services, "Guide for Storage of Insulin"