TYPES OF INSULIN

Everyone with type 1 diabetes needs to take insulin, so do many others with type 2 diabetes.1 Insulin is available in many forms and helps keep blood sugar levels under control. 1,2 There are many types of insulin, some work quickly while some work a little slower. Some last for a longer time in your body, while some have a short life.2

Here’s a quick glance at commonly used insulin and how they work 2,3

PARAMETER HOW SOON IT BEGINS TO WORK? HOW LONG IT LASTS?
Rapid acting insulin 15 min 3 to 5 hrs
Short acting insulin 30-60 min 5 to 8 hrs
Intermediate acting insulin 1-3 hrs 10 to 16 hrs
Long acting insulin 1 hr Up to 24 hrs or more
Pre-mixed insulin 5-15 min 10 to 16 hrs
1Rapid-acting insulin 3,4,5

Rapid-acting insulin is also called bolus insulin. It acts very fast and so is taken before a meal to lower blood sugar after eating. It can either be injected or taken by an insulin pump. It is commonly recommended in type 1 diabetes and at times in type 2 diabetes.

2Short-acting insulin 4,6

Short acting insulins may also be called regular insulin. Short acting insulins are not as quick to act as rapid acting insulins and therefore may be more appropriate in certain people. This type of insulin starts action usually between 30 minutes and an hour and lasts for approximately eight hours depending on dose.

It  is usually used before a meal, and controls postprandial blood glucose levels.

3Intermediate-acting insulin 4

Longer acting than the above two but shorter acting than the Long acting insulin.

4Long-acting insulin 3,4,7

Long-acting insulin is also called basal insulin and is usually active throughout the day.
It primarily reduces the fasting blood glucose level.

5Premixed insulin 2,8

In premixed insulin, shorter or rapid acting insulin is combined with longer acting insulin.

Before prescribing any type of insulin, your doctor may check for your blood glucose levels, body’s metabolism of insulin, lifestyle and your personal preferences. Your doctor will not just prescribe the insulin that is right for you, but also help you understand how it works. 9

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