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Guide to Diabetes

Insulin, Devices and Storage

insulin pens

Insulin can be given in different ways including syringes, insulin pens and insulin pumps. The insulin dose can be flexible and adjusted according to your lifestyle and is likely to be adjusted throughout your life. Learning to adjust your insulin is an important part of your diabetes care.

Insulin packages

Depending on the type of insulin and individual preference, insulin is available in different ways:


  • Insulin cartridges to be used with reusable insulin pens (with needles)

  • Pre –filled insulin pen device (with needles), this is filled with insulin and is disposed when empty

  • Insulin vials (bottles) to be used with insulin syringes with needles

Types of insulin devices/delivery systems

There are many types of Insulin devices that are available, the type of device that you have been prescribed is specific to the type of insulin you have and the dosage of insulin that you may be prescribed.


  1. Syringes Insulin syringes are available on prescription in 3 sizes: 0.3ml, 0.5mls and 1ml syringes. (30, 50 and 100 units respectively). A shorter 8mm needle is available in all size syringes.
  2. Insulin Pens Cartridges are available for use with specific pens which are reusable.

   Pre-filled disposable pens are also available.Special devices may be available for people who have problems holding a pen or syringe. Pen Needles Available in 5mm, 6mm, 8mm and 12.7mm.

  • Generally you need to use a gentle ‘lifted skin fold’ technique when using 8mm and 12.7mm needles to inject. You do not need to pinch up if using 5mm and 6mm needles.

Examples of insulin delivery devices

Insulin Devices Yorkshire Diabetes Website

Insulin Pens available in the UK Diabetes UK

Insulin Delivery Devices by Novo Nordisk

Storing Insulin

  • All insulin needs to be stored below 25 degrees celsius
  • Insulin vials, cartridges or disposable pens should be stored in the fridge
  • at temperature between 2 degrees celsius and 8 degrees Celsius. (It is advisable to take insulin out of the fridge 1 hour before injecting. Cold insulin increases the pain of the injection and slows down the insulin absorption.)
  • Label when first used.
  • Keep syringes, hands and injection areas clean
  • If insulin is exposed to extremes of temperature it is damaged.
  • Freezing insulin destroys it and above 30 degrees Celsius insulin’s activity decreases. Ie in hot cars
  • Check the expiry date throw away if expired.
  • Always follow the instructions

Storing pens

  • The current insulin pen that you are using should not be stored in the fridge. These can be stored at room temperature for up to 28 days.
  • Your spare insulin cartridges and pens should be stored in the fridge until use.

Storing insulin when travelling

If you are going on holiday it is important to store your insulin appropriately, have a look at our travel advice for insulin and insulin storage. 

If you are driving you need to take extra precautions with your insulin and storage Avoid storing insulin in the glove compartment or boot- invest in a cool box

Your insulin regime will be discussed and agreed with you to suit your particular needs by the diabetes team.