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Why insulin injection site rotation is important

For many years, rotating insulin injection sites has been standard practice. You might inject in the arm one day, and then inject in the thigh the next, and maybe move to the stomach soon after that. But now the old beliefs about site rotation are being challenged by new research into the subject.

Where you inject insulin matters

Insulin injections should be given in one of four places: the stomach, the buttocks, the outer thighs and the upper arms. These areas have more fatty tissue and thus make it easier to inject insulin without the risk of injecting into muscle. Be sure to avoid the few inches around the navel, the bony area above the knee and the muscular area of the upper arm. Each of these four areas on your body has a different absorption rate. Insulin is absorbed fastest from the stomach. It is a bit slower from the upper arms and even slower from the thighs. The buttocks is the area is that takes the longest time for insulin to absorb.

Experts now know that different types of insulin work best when injected into particular sites. Long-acting insulin can be injected into the thighs, upper arm or buttocks. Short-acting insulin is usually best injected into your abdomen. But keep in mind that your lifestyle can make a difference as well; for instance, if you are going to be exercising within a few minutes after an injection, avoid the upper arms or thighs. The exercise can cause rapid absorption, which can lead to sudden blood sugar lows in the middle of your workout.

Use the same general area yet rotate the injection within the site. You can do this by giving yourself a new shot at least an inch away from the last injection site. Avoid using the same exact spot, as that can lead to a buildup of scar tissue that can be painful and prevent insulin from absorbing properly.

Three points to remember when it comes to insulin injections

Keep in mind that these are guidelines for insulin site rotation, but your doctor's instructions might be different.

  1. Always follow the doctor's instructions when injecting insulin.
  2. When you inject, avoid moles or scars, as insulin might not absorb as well from these spots.
  3. Remember to use a needle length and gauge that are right for the area you are injecting.

Finally, remember that if you are mixing insulins in the same syringe, it is okay to inject in any of the four recommended areas.

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About Shannon Lee

Shannon Dauphin began writing about diabetes long before she was diagnosed in 1998. A professional writer with nearly two decades of experience, Shannon has covered topics from medical and health to relationships and is the author of several published novels.

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