Ultimate Guide For Pen Needles & Insulin Syringes

Ultimate Guide For Pen Needles & Insulin Syringes

It’s no secret that diabetes is challenging. From keeping up with your blood sugar readings to figuring out what supplies you need and don’t need. Of the many supplies, pen needles and insulin syringes are some of the most important. Here’s a guide answering frequently asked questions on insulin syringes and pen needles.

What is an insulin pen needle? What is an insulin syringe? 

Insulin pens are all-in-one devices. The vial remains inside the pen. For each use, you just need to change your pen needle, making this often daily process more efficient. An insulin syringe requires you to apply the needle to the vial and draw the medicine out to the proper dosage. 

Is there any benefit to the insulin pen vs. injecting insulin with a vial and needle? 

There are pros and cons to both insulin pens and syringes. We recommend speaking with your primary care provider to discuss these options. Here are some key differences to consider. Both are used to administer medicines such as insulin. Medicines for each method may differ and you might end up using both depending on the variety of medicines you are taking. 

What is an insulin pen needle? What is an insulin syringe? 

Insulin pens are all-in-one devices. The vial remains inside the pen. For each use, you just need to change your pen needle, making this often daily process more efficient. An insulin syringe requires you to apply the needle to the vial and draw the medicine out to the proper dosage. 

How much are diabetic pen needles? 

Insulin pens are paired with pen needles. Most pen needles have universal fit and can be paired with various pen devices. Many people with diabetes use pen needles and some hospitals have started to use pen needles. However, syringes are most commonly used by hospitals. Pen devices can hold exact measurements of insulin and medicine whereas vials hold a set amount. This is cost effective for both patients and hospitals. However, pen tips can be very expensive with or without insurance coverage. Prices can range from $30 to $80 for a box 100 count. Insurance coverage will vary based on your plan. Pip Diabetes Care offers premium quality pen needles for a fraction of the cost - $13.95 for a one time purchase and $11.95 for a subscription. No insurance needed.  

Insulin pens tend to come in smaller needle gauges. However, pens tend to require longer injection times. This is because of the smaller gauge and therefore the liquid comes out of the pen at a slower pace. People with dexterity issues or arthritis in their hands might find this longer time frame painful and challenging to administer. Additionally, if you are not used to using an insulin pen and draw the needle too soon, this can lead to improper dosing and not giving yourself enough medicine / insulin.  

Insulin pens are pre-filled meaning you do not have to draw the correct dose each time. All you have to do is change the needle. With an insulin syringe, it is not recommended to pre fill the syringe. This creates risk for accidental needle pokes and also the loss of valuable medicine. Insulin pens hold secure 

It’s important to speak with your primary care doctor and a diabetes educator to understand which option is best for you. 

Both insulin pens and insulin syringes are intended for single use. You can reuse these needles however, reusing a needle creates risk for cross contamination, infection and more pain. When a needle is reused it becomes more dull with each use. The duller the needle the more painful the pokes.

Can you buy pen needles over the counter? 

Yes, though it does depend on which state you live in. In most of parts of the U.S., you can buy pen needles and syringes without a prescription. Many people find ordering online is a convenient way to order pen needles without a prescription and get them delivered. You WILL need a prescription for your pen device or your insulin/medicine vial that accompanies the pen needles or syringes. We recommend speaking with your primary care provider for more information on your prescription status. However, you do NOT need a subscription for the pen needles and syringes. 

How do you know what size pen needle to use?

We recommend speaking with your provider on which size to use. It's important to make sure the needle injects with the right amount of depth. Check out our blog post that lays out pen needle and lancet sizes here. 

Do insulin pen needles and syringes expire? 

Just like all diabetes and medical supplies, there is an expiration date for these supplies. You should be able to find the expiration date on the box of the product. 

Sources:
https://endocrinenews.endocrine.org/april-2014-grudge-match-pens-vs-syringes/
https://www.touchendocrinology.com/diabetes/journal-articles/a-comparison-of-insulin-pen-devices-and-disposable-plastic-syringes-simplicity-safety-convenience-and-cost-differences/


https://www.touchendocrinology.com/diabetes/journal-articles/a-comparison-of-insulin-pen-devices-and-disposable-plastic-syringes-simplicity-safety-convenience-and-cost-differences/ 


https://livingwithdiabetes.bd.com/en-ca/living-with-diabetes-faqs?count=10&page=2 


https://www.healthline.com/diabetesmine/ask-dmine-do-needles-expire#2