While many physicians do not recommend that a patient do so, it is possible for most people to give themselves injections of vitamin B12 right at home. The key to successfully accomplishing self-injections lies in knowing how to do it, where to inject the vitamin and how often to repeat the process. In spite of your reservations, you can learn how to self-inject vitamin B12.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Rubber gloves (optional)
- Cotton balls
Make an appointment with a doctor to get B12 and syringe prescriptions and to obtain training in giving self-injections. The physician may teach the technique himself, or he might assign another staff member trained in the process, such as an injection specialist. Practice injections at home on an orange before giving yourself the first one. Oranges best represent the toughness of muscle tissue and teach you how much force to use to puncture the area.
Cleanse your hands thoroughly before preparing for the injection. You can wear clean rubber gloves if you so desire.
Prepare everything for the injection process. Remove the B12 vial from storage and disinfect it to avoid transmitting any bacteria from it to the syringe. Remove the syringe from its protective covering. Take off the needle's safety cover. Check the entire syringe to make sure it functions as it should. Then pull the inside tube of the plunger to reach the dosage amount prescribed by the physician.
Insert the needle into the B12 vial's rubber centre, making sure the needle is in contact with the vitamin solution. Push the air out of the syringe, replacing it with the vitamin by pulling the plunger back once more to the proper dosage amount. Hold the vial and syringe upright and tap the side of the syringe to remove any noticeable air bubbles. Once you have the proper dosage amount and you are sure there are no air bubbles, remove the syringe from the vial. Push the syringe plunger in ever so slightly to dispense a tiny amount of the vitamin. This helps to dispel any remaining air bubbles and ensures the syringe is working properly.
Numb the injection area if desired. Your doctor may prescribe something for this purpose, or you can simply use an ice pack applied to the area until it becomes numb. Disinfect the numbed area with alcohol and a cotton ball to ensure that minimal or no bacteria exist. This will help prevent it from being transferred inside the body during the injection process.
Pinch the injection site together with disinfected or rubber-gloved hands. This helps to support the muscle area where the injection will take place.
Insert the needle into the site according to the instructions given by the physician or his staff. Push the vitamin into the injection site with the syringe plunger at a moderate pace. Too quick an application could cause the B12 to seep from the skin. Too slow an application can be more painful for some people.
Let go of the skin after the B12 has been injected and remove the needle. Use a disinfected cotton ball to disinfect the area one more time. Don't push hard into the skin, but rub lightly in a circular motion.
Apply a Band-Aid to the injection site if it bleeds. Another option is just to hold a clean cotton ball over the site, applying light pressure until all bleeding has stopped.
Dispose of the needle, syringe and cotton balls safely according to state safety requirements and acceptable medical practice procedures.
Tips and warnings
- Doing home self-injections can help lower medical care costs significantly, as well as preventing long waits to obtain doctor's appointments just to get injections.
- Some doctors and clinics can provide videotape that the patient can refer back to as needed.
- Some syringes automatically come with a safety top that must be removed before the syringe can actually be used. Follow the instructions that come with the product to determine how to remove the safety top.
- An upper thigh or arm may be the best place for an injection site. However, feel free to choose any site that is acceptable to your physician.
- Alternate injection sites from one dosage to the next to prevent any one site from becoming too uncomfortable.
- Store the vitamin as directed by the pharmacist.
- Do not attempt self-injections without proper training beforehand. It is imperative that you know "where" and "how" to give the injections to avoid causing skin or health damage.
- Do not inject the vitamin if air bubbles are present. If you cannot get rid of them for some reason, contact the doctor's office for assistance or discard that syringe and begin the process all over again.
- If you must lay down the clean syringe for any reason, be sure to place it on a clean surface like a new paper towel.
- Vitamin B12 is light sensitive, so if the injection process is stopped for even a short amount of time, be sure the cover the syringe with another paper towel to avoid light exposure.
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