Medically reviewed by Jenny Blair, MD
If you’ve been prescribed a biologic injection for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), you may have a lot of questions about how to take it. How long does it take? How frequently do you need a new dose? Will it be painful? But taking a biologic doesn’t have to be scary.
Start by talking to your doctor—there’s no such thing as a silly question, so don’t be shy. Meanwhile, these tips might help make it easier for you to perform each injection.
1. Do the first biologic injection under professional supervision.
It is standard practice for your health care provider to walk you through how to administer your injection. Doing it together the first time can help you build up the confidence you need to do it on your own later on.
2. Set reminders.
Once you’ve got your first dose(s) under your belt, you’ll likely need to administer a new dose every two to four weeks.
3. Change things up.
Moving the location for each of your injections at least an inch away from each other is recommended. Write down where you injected your medication each time, so you remember to aim elsewhere next time.
4. Warm it up first.
Since most biologics are refrigerated, letting it get to room temperature may help ease some injection discomfort. Ask your doctor if you can take your medication out to sit at room temperature for 15 to 30 minutes before you’re ready to administer the injection. Just don’t put it in the microwave or in hot water—and don’t leave it in direct sunlight.
5. Set everything up.
Create a routine for biologic injection day. Start by finding a place where you’ll feel relaxed. Have a place where you can gather your supplies and lay out everything you need so you’re ready to get started.
6. Ice the area.
Once you’re all set up, and your biologic has reached room temperature, some experts suggest briefly icing your injection site to help numb the area and reduce side effects like pain, redness, and swelling.
7. Take a pain reliever.
If you’re prone to injection-site pain, you may also take a pain reliever, like acetaminophen, before administering the injection. Check with your doctor.
Take a deep breath—inhale, exhale, and perform the injection as directed.
9. Remember: You’ve got this.
Remind yourself that this is what you need to do to keep your IBD under control. Many injections are pretty quick, lasting around 10 seconds or so, which means you’ll be able to go about your day in no time.
At the end of the day, being able to stick with your prescribed treatment is of utmost importance, so if you’re still having trouble with your injections after trying these strategies, be sure to talk to your doctor.
Jenny Blair is a writer and journalist covering science, medicine, and the humanities. She earned her MD at Yale University, then completed a residency in emergency medicine at the University of Chicago. After several years in practice, she transitioned to working with words and ideas full-time. Jenny has contributed to Discover, New Scientist, Washington Spectator, and Medtech Insight, among other publications. She lives in New York City.
Oshi is a tracking tool and content resource. It does not render medical advice or services, and it is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. You should always review this information with your healthcare professionals.