Insulin syringes

My DE has told me to pack some insulin syringes on my trip overseas just incase my pens don't work. i was just wondering how many times you can re use a syringe or whether to only use them once then discard. Thanks Adele

I have never heard of using syringes as a backup for pens. If you are using the cartridge type pens (e.g. Novopens) you can just carry one spare pen in case you have a problem with either of the ones you are using. I assume you are not using the disposable pens (e.g. Flexpen). If so you will have spares anyway.

I used pens for ~25 years and never had a cartridge type pen conk out on me.

Depends a little bit on the gauge, how careful you are injecting, and how protected they are where you store them. I guess I get a few days out of each of mine with the main problem being that the numbers/lines wear off.

1 a day works for me, anywhere from 6 to 8 shots. Rinse, repeat..

I have a pump now but generally use syringes until the paint comes off and I can't see what I'm shooting.

Its a good idea, if for no other reason that you can pull the last few units out of a pen, using a syringe. Syringes are cheap and I don't see much good in re-using them, but mine might get dull after 5-10 injections.

Non-cartridge pens have a 3ml cartridge in them, it just can't be removed.

If something goes wrong with the injection mechanism in the pen, a syringe can be inserted in to the rubber needle access and insulin drawn, just like from a vial.

A few syringes should be in every insulin-using diabetic's kit, for emergency situations. Also, if you're a fan of intramuscular injections for faster corrections as I am, keep some long needle ones around (12mm).

Used to use the syringe only once and then discard. Now that I have been put on both a pen and syringe( fast acting 3 times a day and intermediate twice a day) I have been using the syringe for the 2 shots each day and then throwing it away. Doesn’t have any problems. Use the pen about 4 days before changing the needle.

I use a syringe for a week or until it becomes uncomfortable, whichever occurs first. They usually go a week without any difficulty.

However --

One of the dangers with reusing syringes is that when you reinsert a used syringe into the vial (or whatever you are drawing the insulin from), traces of old stale insulin clinging to the needle can occasionally contaminate the fresh insulin in the vial. When that happens, the insulin in the vial can gradually polymerize and be rendered useless. It's not dangerous but it can conceivably be a major waste of money. So after each use, I wipe the needle several times with an alcohol swab to remove any trace of insulin. For the same reason, I don't inject air into the vial unless the syringe is being used for the first time. I've been doing this for several years without a single incident.

The pen needles only last 4-6 times for me without really having to jab, but when I used to use traditional syringes, I used to use each one a bunch of times, 15-20 or more if I remember right. But when you're traveling, especially overseas, make sure to bring double of everything you think you might need, just in case.

thankyou for all the replies, its being really helpful hearing all of your opinions

I use syringes at the end of pens, usually 3-4 times at which point they hurt me. I'm on a pump now but I still carry pens/pen needles and syringes as instructed because you may need them if the pump fails to deliver insulin, you have an occlusion or whatever issue may arise, to lower blood glucose etc. Some people still use injections to lower blood glucose if the pump site is having absorption issues. My first day on insulin on the pump, I did a correction with a syringe from the penfill that I had used to fill the pump because it wouldn't inject with a pen needle anymore. I forgot that I could have used the pump. We had set a temp rate of 0% for a few hours to start the basal delivery when the levemir was mostly out of my system. I would always carry syringes just in case and I carry one pen of novolog and levemir also.

Unless you are going to pack a vial of insulin as well I don't think there is any point; anywhere you can buy vials of insulin you can buy the syringes that go with them.

I pack twice the number pens I need up to about +2, the main problem I find with travel (anywhere) is the non-availability of low-carb food.

I don't think it's really relevant, but way way back when I did MDI with vials and syringes I reused the syringes until they either bent or started hooking bits out of my flesh. I did the same thing with pen needles before I moved to a pump (one pen, one needle!) Not that I'm saying this is wise, just convenient.

In general I think you can assume that you can get pens anywhere in the world and, if you can't, you can get something that will work. The *real* exception is on a boat; then you are on your own and need to come prepared.

John Bowler

Not in Illinois. You can buy R and NPH insulin without an RX but no works

I just use pens; I fill the pump from the pen and I carry pen needles as a back-up.

It's minimal overhead, it covers most possibilities, though I did just get a Lantus refill for times when I don't use the pump. (;-) my prior supply of Lantus expired some time in 2013 so I thought maybe I should stop using it and get some newer stuff.)

Last time I had to do it was in CA; east short of Lake Tahoe some scumbag broke into the car and stole my insulin (etc) while I was hiking. No problem there, that was Humalin (which is GMO but not GM, so non-prescription), but my understanding was that the pharmacist would supply drugs on an emergency basis without a prescription.

It's a lot easier in Europe (*not* the UK) and Asia; pharmacists can prescribe. I've never tried it in the UK, my guess, having known the culture in a past life, is that a pharmacist would provide the necessary just as the one in CA did.

John Bowler

Here you can buy anything short of an analog insulin. You'll pay full price, of course, but you can buy the stuff.

Bring a couple! They are cheap. I had a pen failure, where the mechanical 'twister' in the pen failed and I used syringes to pull the insulin out, so as to not waste the insulin. But, this has only happened once. I think you'd be in good shape, just bringing two syringes.

My case for syringes:
They might be helpful with foreign language airport security. I think that people see syringes and they think, 'medicine.' Pens might me less recognizable and more likely to require an explanation to airport security or some 16 year old cop.

Different syringes have different measurements of 'a unit.' So, you might have to convert it algebraically if you get an unfamiliar syringe volume, over the counter. I can never remember this conversion off the top of my head because I rarely use it, but I can usually look up the necessary info if I have one of MY syringes, in hand.

Its nice to have a syringe, in your purse, in case you bump into another diabetic who needs one. That happens to me a couple times a year.

My case against syringes:
I worry they can attract unwanted attention. A gentleman once stared me down, real hard, while I took a manual injection on a subway platform in Paris. Sometimes I'm worry that syringes might provoke a robbery. Depends where your going. I suppose even Lake Tahoe could have a hobo heroin addict sleeping outside in the woods...just never know.

yeah true, thanks for all the replies ill probably take a couple with me anyway