A Syringe is one of the oldest medical instruments and is still the prevalent device used for injecting fluids inside the human body. Earlier, syringes were made of steel but today, most syringes are made of glass or plastic. Syringes are also synonymous with injections because of their purpose.
The modern syringe was invented in the year 1853 by Scottish doctor Alexander Wood. The syringe had a glass body which made it possible to see the amount of fluid being administered to the body. Dr. Wood developed the modern syringe to administer pain relief medicine to the affected area directly.
Syringes were the first insulin delivery system dating back to the 1920s, long before the invention of insulin pumps and insulin pens. Syringes are still the most used insulin delivery system by diabetic patients because of their ease of availability and the low cost associated with them. Insulin syringes are for single use only and can be easily disposed of.
While cheap and effective, insulin syringes can be quite bothersome and inconvenient for diabetic patients. That is why many insulin users are gradually shifting to more modern insulin delivery methods such as Insulin Pens and Insulin Pumps.
Read Article about: Pros and Cons of Insulin Pump
Components of insulin syringe
The needle is the part of the syringe that is injected inside the body to administer insulin. Modern needles are coated with silicone so that they can easily penetrate the skin without causing much pain. The needle was developed in order to administer dosage into the patient’s body without creating a cut or incision in the skin. The needle does not leave any scars as well.
The barrel is the middle part of the syringe. It is the container that holds the medicine or insulin. A barrel is transparent so that the medical practitioner or patient can monitor how much medicine is being dispensed from the syringe and how much is left. This can make it easy for diabetic patients to plan their injections according to their needs.
The plunger is the backmost part of the syringe. It is used to control the insulin dosage that is to be administered. When the plunger is pressed, insulin starts getting delivered inside the body. The units of insulin to be delivered can be easily controlled by the plunger with the help of the transparent barrel.
Insulin Syringe Disadvantages
1. Multiple injections throughout the day- A type 1 diabetic patient requires multiple injections throughout the day to maintain his blood sugar levels. Hence, a diabetic patient would need to use syringes many times a day which may cause pain. It is quite inconvenient to inject yourself 2 to 4 times a day. Some people also have a fear of needles which can make injecting syringes a nightmare.
2. Lack of flexibility- Insulin syringes do not provide much flexibility to the user. They need to be carried around everywhere and the user has to make sure to inject insulin at particular times every day. If by any chance a diabetic patient misses his timely insulin it could create problems in the blood sugar levels. Insulin syringes also do not provide the flexibility of changing the amount of insulin delivery while exercising or other intense activity like insulin pumps can.
3. It can be painful- Syringes are a primitive insulin delivery tool that can cause pain to the user. It goes deep inside the skin, unlike insulin pens or pumps which do not puncture the skin that deeply. Syringes come in different sizes. Therefore, it is important to know which size gives the least pain.
4. Risk of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)- Usage of insulin syringes can lead to low blood sugar in diabetic patients. This happens due to the inability of diabetic patients to decide the right time and dosage of insulin. Low blood sugar may lead to issues such as fatigue, sweating, shakiness, anxiety, etc.
5. Swelling of arms and legs- Oftentimes when patients administer insulin themselves, they can inject the wrong amount of dosage. This may lead to reactions such as swelling of arms and legs. Swelling of arms and legs happens due to the buildup of fluids in the body.
6. Injection site reactions- Insulin syringe usage can sometimes cause skin reactions and infections on the injection site. It may lead to rashes, redness, swelling, and itchiness around the injection site. Insulin pumps and insulin pens have lesser chances of site reaction and infections.
7. Risk of heart failure- Poor management of blood sugar levels in diabetic patients might lead to heart failure. People with diabetes are at a much higher risk of suffering from heart failure. Using insulin injections can be difficult because you don’t know how much insulin your body will need at a particular moment. The effectiveness of insulin injections depends only on the user himself and might cause heart failure if not done properly.
8. May require some expertise- Since an insulin syringe is more of a manual insulin delivery method than insulin pens and insulin pumps, it requires more expertise than the two. It might also be tough for patients to learn how to inject themselves, and they may require help from others. Injections can be complicated to do properly for the patients.
Some diabetic patients may also be afraid to inject themselves. This would make them quite dependent on others
What can be used as an alternative to an insulin syringe?
As we have already discussed, insulin syringes are a primitive insulin delivery method that can be quite painful, inflexible, and bothersome since they require multiple injections throughout the day. All these problems can be solved by using an insulin pump. An insulin pump only needs to be injected once in a few days and provides consistent insulin delivery to the user throughout the day.
The only major drawback of an insulin pump is the cost associated with it. However, recent developments in the insulin pump industry have made low-cost variants a possibility. One such affordable insulin pump is INSUL by AgVa which is going to be launched at an attractive price of just Rupees 25,000. When launched, it would become the most affordable insulin pump on the market. INSUL by AgVa consists of a replaceable cartridge of 500 units that may last up to two weeks depending on its usage. This would make INSUL by AgVa a great alternative to an insulin syringe.