When Insulin Pens Jam

My Insulin Pen

I woke up this morning with slightly elevated BS levels. So I ate a little breakfast – a salad with some quinoa – and took four units of insulin (Apidra) and set off to do some errands. When I came home four hours later I was hungry again so I ate some more salad with a bit of quinoa and checked my BS again. I was totally surprised to find it was 325. I couldn’t believe it. How could this be?

So I took four more units of insulin.

I waited a half an hour and checked my BS again – it was still around 300. I couldn’t understand it. This kind of thing usually happens when I’m sick or if I ate something I’m not used to eating. But I’m not sick and I really haven’t had that much to eat today.  And for what I did eat, I bolused.

Before getting upset about some new health problem I may or may not have I decided to take a look at the insulin pen I was using. I took the pen out and tried to squirt out a few units of insulin but although the pen seemed to work, nothing came out. I tried again a couple more times, turning the screw-like top to the number 5, indicating five units of insulin, but nothing happened. After the fourth attempt the pen jammed completely, as if it were empty (it was more than half full).

I have to admit this is not the first time an insulin pen has jammed on me. But it pisses me off every time it happens.  It really pisses me off. What if I weren’t home where I can just take a different pen, or  and what if I had eaten some serious carbs and not just a small portion of quinoa?  I don’t know what other diabetics feel when their BS levels go up to the 400’s but I can barely function and basically fall asleep. And many times I end up having a serious low as a result of a miss calculation when trying to bring my BS down.

When I first started using insulin I had refill pens (where you changed the insulin vial when it ran out instead of throwing the whole pen out). Those pens never jammed (at least mine didn’t). The newer disposable pens are more convenient but if that convenience comes at the cost of quality, I’m not sure it’s worth it.  Of course, there’s always the option of the pump.

Has anyone else had problems with disposable pens jamming?

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1 year ago

I have had trouble also and discovered part of the problem is the way I was putting needle on the pen. I was screwing the needle on to the pen and I happened not to get it straight tilted just a little I think the needle that goes into the insulin pen gets bent and prevents all the insulin from not being delivered.

If you take the pen and screw it in to the needle there is less chance of bending.

I went thru one whole pen testing and believe that screwing the pen into the needle is best way

1 year ago

My husband gets his insulin pens from the VA and so far in the past month and a half we have thrown out 4 pens because they malfunctioned. We both watch his diet religiously and his episodes of elevated blood sugars was unwarranted. He is planning of speaking with his doctor about going back to insulin vials and syringes. Then he will know for sure that he is receiving what is prescribed for him.

2 years ago

I have had the same problem for the past two days with my Humalog Kwik pen. I’ve tried changing the replacement needles. I live in Canada, so I don’t know if it’s the same in the U.S. Here our blood sugar levels go from 1-10. IT should be between 4-7 fasting and 5-10 post meals. My problem was the dial itself and the rubber tip where the needles go. It was as if the insulin pen was clogged and then the dial (usually easily clicks with every unit) took me more strength then usual to turn. I did ask my… Read more »

3 years ago

4th time this year that a Lantus pen has jammed. Thankfully, it hasn’t happened when I was out of town, and I was able to use a new pen each time, but the failure rate is unexceptable and potentially dangerous. Is there some agency to which we can report the failures? It seems pretty obvious the makers of the delivery device aren’t doing anything to fix the problem.

Chris Joubert
Chris Joubert
3 years ago

The same thing happened to me. First no insulin would come out, and then, the mechanism jam. This to us, is life threatening! Now I cannot exchange the faulty pens (3pens out of 5pack did this) until the rep sees them.. I mean.. really.. 4 days now, have not heard anything.

Shelly Maginley
Shelly Maginley
6 years ago

Seems like every time I get a new pen, I use it a couple of times and it jams. I have quite a few in the frig and wish I could fix them. Any ideas?

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