Size Does Matter

Kelsey Bonilla Health Guide
  • Innuendo aside, have other people noticed that their blood sugar response to insulin injections varies depending on the size of their syringe or pen needle?   I sure have. 


    Since I quit pumping (almost 2 years ago now!) I have used a variety of syringes and pens to administer my insulin boluses.   I stopped using the Humalog pen because the short needle meant that insulin wasn’t getting into my system and working as quickly as it did when I injected with a syringe.  In order to make it work I’d have to bolus 30 or more minutes before a meal which I can’t be counted on to do regularly!

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    The pen particularly didn’t work fast enough for my morning workouts when I’d bolus right before exercising to combat dawn phenomenon.  The same amount of insulin delivered via a syringe would keep me in range, but the pen boluses were leaving me with high blood sugars post workout. No bueno!

    Recently, I opened up a new box of syringes and noticed that they have a shorter needle.  After a day or so of using the needles I noticed a difference in insulin activity versus the medium sized syringe length. It wasn’t as delayed as the pen activity, however.  So, I checked my syringe supply and located another box of syringes (apparently I had a bunch of extra boxes that were packed in our move last year!) which had a much longer needle (1/2 inch length).  For the last week or so I’ve been doing an experiment of sorts: I’m bolusing with the longer needle before meals if my blood sugar is elevated and for correction boluses.  When my blood sugar is in range and I’m eating something with very little carbohydrate (and therefore don’t need the insulin to act very quickly), I’ll bolus with the shorter needle.     


    It’s working!  The difference is not huge, but I can tell that the longer needle gets the insulin into my body faster (I assume because it’s being injected deeper).  By having the shorter needle, I can bolus with a bit more confidence that my blood sugar won’t drop too low, in those cases where the meal won’t spike my blood sugar.


    Anyone else experiment with different needle lengths?  What works for you?

Published On: June 20, 2013