Medical evaluate by Elizabeth Gomez, MSN, FNP-BC
Whether or not you’re new to insulin injections or for those who’ve been utilizing them for many years, in some unspecified time in the future the thought has positively crossed your thoughts: “Can I reuse my syringes?”
There are not less than two tempting causes to reuse your syringes: It saves cash, and it saves trouble. Each member of the Diabetes Day by day employees will admit to having not less than sometimes reused syringes, lancets, and insulin pen suggestions.
But it surely’s vital to know that medical authorities universally agree that you must by no means reuse syringes. This text will focus on the dangers.
The Blunt Fact
Syringes, insulin pen suggestions, and lancets (used to prick the fingertips for glucose meters) are all manufactured for use solely as soon as. Merely put, they’re not constructed to penetrate your pores and skin a number of instances. Each time you employ one in all these sharp implements, the needle’s tip degrades.
In the event you spend time within the diabetes on-line group, you’ll have seen photographs of what are supposedly magnified pictures of syringe suggestions. Right here’s an instance of a picture that has been shared many instances, all all through the web:
Fairly ugly, proper? However we’re unsure the place this picture really comes from, and subsequently can’t confirm that it’s actual. We don’t know what stage of magnification was used, or how damaging the needle on the correct may really be. However let’s take it without any consideration that needles endure fast degradation after use that can not be assessed with the bare eye.
So, what’s the issue with a blunt, ragged, or hooked needle? The primary and most evident drawback is that it’d damage. These reused needles are additionally extra prone to trigger bruising or bleeding.
However the injury from a blunt needle could transcend an ouchie. It’s been proposed that ragged needle suggestions additionally contribute to lipohypertrophy, the scarring and undesirable development of fatty tissues. Lipohypertrophy is a sneaky and surprisingly frequent complication that may result in each disagreeable lumpy pores and skin and to declining blood sugar management, as a result of injections into broken flesh usually tend to be absorbed unpredictably. All of us need to keep away from lipohypertrophy: It’s the first motive we’re taught to rotate our injection websites.
There additionally exists a danger of bacterial contamination whenever you repeatedly inject your self with the identical needle, particularly in case you are not cautious about utilizing alcohol swabs to disinfect your pores and skin and the insulin vial stopper. Whereas an infection isn’t frequent, it’s a chance, and a harmful one at that. Many individuals with diabetes have a decreased potential to combat off infections.
There may be additionally the prospect that you simply involuntarily assist speed up the degradation of the insulin itself by introducing contaminants into the vial.
And for those who depart a pen tip hooked up to your insulin pen, you might have opened a small pathway between the insulin and the surface world. Small quantities of air or fluid can journey by way of the needle, particularly when the pen is uncovered to temperature adjustments, which might cut back dosing accuracy.
What About Lancets?
The advice from well being authorities and producers on lancets is similar: you must change your lancet each time you employ it.
The reality is that it’s a very uncommon affected person that adjustments their lancet each time. In line with One Drop, a glucose meter producer, most individuals change their lancets much less usually than each day. About one in 5 sufferers change their lancets “a number of instances a 12 months,” or by no means. There are numerous foolish lancet memes that joke about this lazy (and quite common) tendency.
Lancets are barely much less problematic than insulin, as a result of they don’t introduce lipohypertrophy or danger contaminating the insulin itself. However boring and ragged lancets damage, and if re-used excessively, chances are you’ll not even notice how a lot they’ve began hurting as a result of the change has been so gradual.
Ideally, you must change your lancet as usually as doable.
Quantifying the Downsides to Reusing Sharps
A small 2015 examine evaluated 28 sufferers with kind 2 diabetes for a number of months, and located “frequent” problems. About half of the members skilled ache from reused syringes, two (7 %) had lipohypertrophy, 5 (18 %) had bruising, and one had an lively an infection at their injection sight. These sufferers reused their syringes a mean of thrice every.
An earlier however bigger 1989 examine had totally different outcomes. This experiment adopted 87 sufferers with diabetes to see if they really adopted syringe use suggestions. About half of them didn’t, reusing syringes a mean of 6.6 instances, and solely a minority disinfected the best way they’d been taught. The outcomes? No hurt achieved, apparently:
No adversarial impact of syringe reuse was recognized. The authors conclude that diabetic sufferers continuously reuse disposable syringes, with out obvious dangerous impact.
There may additionally be some conditions wherein utilizing a recent needle is definitely extra harmful than not. How so? Properly, think about that you haven’t any option to eliminate your outdated lancet or pen tip correctly. You possibly can’t simply toss it within the trash, and also you definitely don’t need it bouncing round unprotected in your purse or backpack. In that case, it could be higher for everybody for those who would simply reuse your needle.
You may also end up with out a recent sharp whenever you need to use one — errors occur, and plans are upended. It occurs to all of us. In that case, chances are you’ll must stability the chance of reusing needles in opposition to the chance of suboptimal blood sugar administration.
The Backside Line
All well being authorities are united after they say that each one sharps — whether or not syringes, pen suggestions, or lancets — must be used solely as soon as.
Many individuals with diabetes fortunately ignore this recommendation, and the chance of doing so is troublesome to quantify.
The very best apply is undoubtedly to make use of a brand new disposable needle each single time it’s doable. Nevertheless, there could also be some conditions the place re-using a pointy is the best choice.