Many people need regular injections of medicine for one reason or another. Everyone knows about insulin shots, but medical syringes and needles are also vital for hormone injections, certain cancer medications, and fertility drug administration. In all these cases and more, the person administering the shot needs to get it right, whether they are the patient or a guardian/caretaker. Any mistakes or slip-ups may prove painful.
This includes learning how to select the right tools for the job. You can find so many different medical syringes and needles out there that the choices can be overwhelming. That is why we at MedOnTheGo put together this guide.
Types of Syringes and Needles
Syringes and needles are not synonymous. Still, there are many different kinds of both syringes and needles. You need to know which of each you will need for your treatment. For your convenience, we will go over some of the more notable types of medical syringes and needles.
Please also note that some syringes and needles are disposable, meaning they are good for one use only, while others are designed for re-usability.
Syringes are devices that use a plunger to push the liquid out of a barrel, and often through a hollow needle. A wide variety of syringes exist to treat a wide variety of maladies. Here are just a few examples:
- Syringes with hypodermic needles: Syringes that utilize hypodermic needles to inject substances and extract fluids. This is likely the most common medical use for syringes.
- Botox syringes: Syringes designed to administer Botox or any other refined form of the Botulinum toxin.
- Insulin syringes: Syringes designed to inject insulin into the body, complete with units of measurement on the barrel specific to insulin. Syringes are necessary for this because insulin does not absorb into the body by ingestion.
- Tuberculin syringes: Syringes used for conducting purified protein derivative (PDP) skin tests, which help physicians screen people for tuberculosis. These syringes are much smaller than the norm, allowing their needle to administer the antigen intradermally. The units of measurement on these syringes are specific to tuberculin, meaning they cannot be used for anything else.
- Oral syringes: Syringes without needles, used for giving liquid medicine to people. The value of using these syringes is that they provide a precise measurement of the amount of liquid medicine that will be ingested. This ensures that the recipient is not getting too little or too much.
Needles are a component used in many syringes, though not all treatments require them. As with syringes, medical experts keep multiple variants of the needle design among their equipment. Here are some of those variants:
- Hypodermic needles: Hollow, thin, sharp needles capable of injecting or extracting fluids.
- Drawing needles: Needles designed more for extracting than injecting — specifically, for drawing medication out of bottles, or blood out of patients and donors. If the medication or blood needs to be injected, they are typically replaced by hypodermic needles.
- Safety hypodermic needles: A type of hypodermic needle that can be covered with a safety barrel. They are also called retractable needles because they can retract on their own after the required amount of fluid is injected. These features serve to prevent accidental needle sticks.
- Insulin pen needles: Hollow needles that attach to the tip of an injection pen, a device commonly prescribed to people with diabetes as a means of getting insulin into their body.
- Blunt needles and cannulas: Blunt needles get medicine into a person’s system not through breaking the skin, but through an IV. Cannulas are similar in that they are blunt-tipped tubes capable of extending a needle’s reach and providing more flexibility when moving through tissue.
- Spinal needles: Lengthy needles designed specifically for accessing cerebral spinal fluid and injecting.
How to Choose the Right Needles & Syringes
Just knowing which type of syringe or needle you need to use is not enough. Other factors must be considered before you make your choice, for example veterinarian syringes are needles shouldn't be used for humans. Here are arguably the three most important ones.
Volume is important because it determines how much medication you can get out of each injection. If you need to inject a large amount, you certainly cannot go with a small syringe. Milliliters (mL) and cubic centimeters (cc’s) are the most common units for measuring the amount.
Every syringe comes with numbered markings on the exterior of the barrel. They show how much medication is contained in the barrel, and how much can be contained.
Needle length is measured in inches, or rather fractions of inches. Depending on the length, the needle may be suitable for different kinds of injections. The longer they are, the deeper they can go:
- The smallest ones, typically in the range of 3/8 to 3/4 inches, are recommended for intradermal injections, which only puncture the skin.
- Those between 1/2 and 5/8 inches are not too big, not too small, but just right for subcutaneous injections, which inject medication into the tissue.
- Few people can work up much enthusiasm when faced with a long needle, but ones between 7/8 and 1-1/2 inches are best for intramuscular injections.
Just as important as the needle length, or arguably more important, is the needle’s width, more commonly known as its gauge. Both terms refer to the diameter of the needle, and more width means a smaller gauge number. For example, a 30-gauge needle is much finer than a 20-gauge one.
As with needle length, needles of different gauges are suitable for different types of injections:
- Intramuscular injections require needles with gauges between 30 and 26.
- For intradermal injections, needles with gauges from 28 to 26 are recommended.
- People can perform subcutaneous injections with a much wider range, from 27 to 19.
If you need medical syringes and needles to treat yourself, a loved one, or a patient, look no further than MedOnTheGo.com. Our inventory includes syringes and needles in a variety of types, sizes, lengths, and gauges, as well as accessories. Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of which ones would be best for you. Visit our online store today and find exactly what you need.