How to Count the Units on an Insulin Needle


Insulin injections are an inevitable part of daily life for people who have Type 1 diabetes, or those using insulin to control blood sugar levels. By combining a healthy diet, exercise, glucose monitoring, and insulin, diabetics can maintain a better overall quality of life. With a bit of concentration and a steady hand, nearly anyone can draw up the correct dosage of insulin, which will help you maintain control over your blood glucose levels.

Things You'll Need

  • Insulin
  • Syringe
  • Alcohol swab

Drawing up the correct dose

Take out your prescribed vial of insulin, making sure there are no major air bubbles. Wipe the top of the vial with an alcohol swab as a sanitary measure. Grab your syringe and take the protective cap off the needle. Pop the other cap off the plunger.

Insert the needle of the syringe into the top of the insulin vial. Tilt the vial upside down, keeping the needle inside of it. Pull down on the plunger to begin drawing up the insulin dosage.

There are several different syringes, with capacity for 30 units, 50 units, or 100 units. Check your syringe, which will have black lines denoting either one or two units of insulin per mark, depending on the syringe's capacity. Look at your syringe to determine if it is marked in five- or 10-unit increments. For syringes using five-unit increments, each smaller black line represents one unit. For syringes using 10-unit increments, each smaller black line represents two units.

Watch the top of the stopper, as the amount of insulin to be delivered is between the top of the syringe and the top of the stopper. Continue pulling down on the plunger until the barrel of the syringe is filled with the desired amount of insulin.

Tips & Warnings

  • Make sure there are no air bubbles trapped in the barrel of the syringe. If there are, gently flick the barrel with your finger, until the bubble floats to the top of the syringe. Once the air bubble is closest to the needle, push the plunger up slightly, just until the bubbles are no longer present. Continue to draw up your dosage of insulin.
  • Consult your doctor when first beginning insulin injections.

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