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Insulin storage and syringe safety

Storing and safety of Insulin is a very important aspect to make sure the insulin does not lose its efficacy and activity.

General rules for storing Insulin

  • To ensure that your insulin remains effective, stable and undamaged you should discard your ‘in use’ insulin after 28 days, whether in a vial or cartridge
  • Insulin that is not in use should be stored in the refrigerator. If refrigeration is not possible, it can be kept at room temperature [15-25 degrees C] for 28 days
  • The in use vial may be kept at room temperature [15-25 degrees C] for 28 days
  • In use cartridges should be kept at room temperature and SHOULD NOT be kept in the refrigerator
  • Insulin has a ‘use by’ date as well as an expiry date

Can an opened Insulin go back to the fridge?

  • Shuttling opened insulin vials between refrigeration and room temperature does not appear to affect the insulin’s potency under these conditions and time periods. However, manufacturers of insulin pens do not recommend storage in a refrigerator once a pen is opened and in use
  • When traveling, keep insulin on your person or in your carry-on bag. Insulin placed in suitcases that are transported in cargo holds of aircraft, boats, and buses or in car trunks may be exposed to damaging temperature extremes
  • Protect insulin from exposure to light and extremes of temperature above and below those noted. Insulin should never be stored in a vehicle, or on windowsills or ledges, where it can be exposed to such conditions

Most manufacturers recommend storing the insulin bottle at room temperature before injecting into the body.

Some other tips for storing insulin: 

  • Do not store your insulin near extreme heat or extreme cold
  • Never store insulin in the freezer, direct sunlight, or in the glove compartment of a car
  • Check the expiration date before using, and don’t use any insulin beyond its expiration date
  • Examine the bottle closely to make sure the insulin looks normal before you draw the insulin into the syringe

Diabetes will remain a difficult and complex condition until we are provided with better ‘tools’ with which to control it. Until then it is important that we rule out anything which could affect our diabetic control. This must include ruling out the possibility that our insulin has started to break down so that it is less potent. This results in it being absorbed and moved around the body differently, so affecting blood glucose levels.

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