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November 03, 2005

DIY: How to Give an Injection (with a Hypodermic Needle)

Today's "How to" article courtesy of English-blog contributor Sean O.:

Taking More Comfortable (Subcutaneous) Injections

Many people are afraid of needles; it is a natural tendency to fear what is potentially painful. For some people though, such as diabetics, shots are part of day-to-day life. Taking injections can be a difficult ordeal, but with a little experience and technique, the pain associated with shots can be minimized. When there’s less pain, there’s less hesitation. That makes it easier to take injections when they’re needed. Confidence and freedom from uncomfortable shots make it less difficult to care for chronic medical needs or emergencies. It’s important to realize that the way an injection is administered affects the chance for pain and the absorption of medication. Keeping some important tips in mind, it’s relatively easy to improve injection technique and greatly reduce the reoccurrence of unpleasant shots . . .

. . . Firstly, be sure to evacuate any air bubbles from within the syringe while loading it with medication. Tapping the syringe briskly often moves bubbles to the top of the syringe where they can be ejected from the needle by expelling some of the medication. Also, try to clear any splashes of medication from the tip of the needle before taking the injection. After filling the syringe, positioning the needle is the first important step. Choose an injection site, such as the upper leg, arm, or abdomen, and lightly pinch up a well of tissue. Always be sure to find new sites that haven’t been used too recently. Remember, the injection places the medication under the skin, so relax the site and present as much fatty tissue as possible. Don’t pinch too tightly either. In some cases, depending on body type and weight, pinching is not even necessary. (Experimentation is key to discovering the best way to take self-administered injections.) Find the bevel of the needle and note its location; the flat edge of the needle that is cut to make it sharp. Hold the syringe firmly. For some, keeping a finger atop the plunger is helpful and makes it easier to inject the medication after inserting the needle. While holding the syringe, position the needle’s tip about an inch or so above the injection site. Hold the needle so that it will enter the site at a slight angle, not straight into the body. Experimenting with different angles can be helpful, but anything between ten and 35 degrees is usually best. Turn the needle so that the bevel faces upwards. This step is important, and should help to make the injection less painful. At this point, the needle is positioned properly.

Inserting the needle is probably one of the most stressful parts of taking an injection, but good preparation means less discomfort and less anxiety. Insertion should be quick to minimize pain. Holding the syringe firmly, quickly thrust the needle into the injection site. While it’s important to be quick, don’t insert the needle too forcefully; little resistance should be experienced. If there is a lot of resistance, the chosen site may be overused or laced with scar tissue and should be avoided. Once the needle is fully inserted, stop applying any force to push it in. Be as steady as possible and position a finger atop the plunger of the syringe if one hasn’t already been.

Just like inserting the needle, injecting the medication should be done relatively quickly. However, injection rate is something that should be experimented with as well. For some, slower injection rates are more comfortable and for others speedier injection rates are best. On average, medication should be injected at about 4 units per second (4/100cc/sec). Gently push down on the syringe’s plunger. Be careful not to push too hard and start injection too suddenly and quickly. There shouldn’t be much resistance while injecting the medication; this too could be a result of scar tissue and indicate that the injection site should be avoided in the future. Push the plunger all the way to the base of the syringe and inject all of the medication that you can every time you take an injection. It’s important to ensure that the dosage of medication administered is accurate. Once the injection is complete, remove the needle from the site by pulling it straight out. Try not to tilt or bend the needle while removing it or some minor discomfort or bleeding may be experienced. It’s not uncommon for some minor bleeding or backflow of medication to occur. If it does, apply a clean cloth or bandage to the site for a minute or two. If a cloth or bandage is not available, something like a clean napkin works just fine as long as it’s clean. If bleeding is moderate and difficult to stop, consider a new area to find injection sites. Lastly, dispose of the syringe safely.

Hopefully, these tips can help to make injections more comfortable. Because everyone is different, these techniques require tweaking and trial to perfect; they’re guidelines, not facts. Once injections are easier to perform and more comfortable, they’ll interfere less with day-to-day activities, and that usually means better health habits and fewer ailments and physical troubles.

~Sean O.

*NOTE: For more English-Blog DIY or "How to . . ." articles, please click HERE!

Comments for Sean's article "Taking More Comfortable (Subcutaneous) Injections?" Please leave them below:

Posted by lhobbs at November 3, 2005 11:24 PM

Readers' Comments:

Professor Hobbs,

Sean O.’s article titled, How to Give an Injection (with a Hypodermic Needle), courtesy of the English-Blog website is very informative. Sean describes that, “Keeping some informative tips in mind, it’s relatively easy to improve injection technique and greatly reduce the reoccurrence of unpleasant shots.

Sean’s article is more of a guideline on how to inject a hypodermic needle, rather than a factual article. The purpose of this article is to help make daily injections more comfortable and less stressful. Sean goes on to explain how to properly fill the hypodermic needle with the needed medicine and gives directions on removing the air bubbles from the needle. Sean then gives examples of different injection sites, such as the upper leg, abdomen, or arm. He also describes that this injection site will not be the same on all people, sometimes there is too much scar tissue in these locations to properly and comfortably inject the medicine. It is also important to use different injection sites so that the person does not discomfort themselves with a site that has been recently used. Sean then goes on to explain the importance of finding the bevel of the needle. It is important that the needle is placed at an angle, usually between ten and thirty five degrees, and that the bevel is facing upward when injecting. Sean also points out that injecting the needle should be done quickly for less pain but not too forcefully. It is important to be steady when injecting the medicine. Injection time differs between people but normally it is found best when injected about four units per second. Sean describes that it is important that there is not much resistance when injecting the medicine because if there is, it is possible that there is too much scar tissue in that location and a different injection area should be used in the future. It is vital to push the plunger all the way down to the bottom of the needle so that all the needed medication gets into the person’s system. Sean states that when the medication is completely inserted, it is important to pull the needle straight out, not at an angle. He follows up with the fact that there may be slight bleeding to the area the needle was inserted, but this is completely normal. A person should use a band aid or a clean cloth to wipe of the excess blood or medication. I feel that the author, Sean, was very clean on making his point.

It appears to me that Sean has experience in this area either with himself of another family member. I feel that he gathered enough evidence to teach a person that is unfamiliar with needle injections the proper technique to use. Sean seemed very confident in his descriptions and examples. He is an extremely thorough article that describes that there are many different ways that injecting a needle can be done and Sean is clear that his article is based on guidelines of either his own experience or one of a family member and that the article is not based completely on facts.

Angela H.

Posted by: Angela H. at April 10, 2006 02:02 PM

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