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The most commons types of insulin

Usually, insulin helps keep the blood sugar at a normal level. But diabetes prevents the pancreas to release the right amount of its own insulin to turn glucose into energy for the body.

Date:   5/27/2021 12:37:14 PM   ( 15 mon ) ... viewed 538 times

Usually, insulin helps keep the blood sugar at a normal level. But diabetes prevents the pancreas to release the right amount of its own insulin to turn glucose into energy for the body. It makes this hormone the main treatment for people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

While this treatment is not the only existing, it never hurts to learn more about the differences between types of insulin.

What are the 3 types of insulin?

There are three main categories of insulins available on the market:

  1. Fast-acting (including rapid- and short-acting) insulin
  2. Intermediate-acting insulin
  3. Long-acting insulin

Alongside these three types, there is the additional one called pre-mixed insulin. It has characteristics of both fast-acting and long-acting insulins and will be described in this article as well. All insulins can be described with three basic characteristics:

  • Onset (how fast insulin starts to work)
  • Peak (how long an injection is at its maximum strength)
  • Duration (how long insulin affects the levels of glucose in the blood)

Now, it's time to delve into the three main categories and understand their mode of operation.

Short-acting and rapid-acting insulin

The basic difference can be spotted in the names of the insulin types. While short-acting and rapid-acting insulins are both the fastest among the three main types of the hormone, they're not the same. A rapid-acting insulin is the fastest one, its onset time of action is 5-15 minutes, and onset peak duration is 1-2 hours. After 4-6 hours, rapid-acting insulin's effect is gone.

Rapid-acting insulin must be taken subcutaneously approximately 15 minutes before each meal. Eating shouldn't be neglected due to the risk of extremely low blood sugar levels - hypoglycemia. A rapid-acting insulin is much in demand as a treatment of type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

The most popular rapid-acting insulin brands available on the market are:

  • Apidra (insulin glulisine)
  • Humalog (insulin lispro injection)
  • Novolog (insulin aspart)

Short-acting insulins (also known as "regular") take more time to start to work. Their action begins within 30 minutes - 1 hour, with onset peak duration lasting for 2-5 hours and overall action time of 6-8 hours. This insulin must also be taken subcutaneously mostly 30 minutes before eating. It's worth consulting the prescription for more detailed information.

Short-acting (regular) insulins include such products:

  • Humulin R (human recombinant)
  • Novolin R (recombinant DNA origin)

Intermediate-acting insulin

Intermediate-acting insulins are used as a background treatment to control glucose levels overnight, during and between meals. After 1-2 hours intermediate-acting insulin begins to work. Its onset peak duration is 4-12 hours. This type of insulin stays effective for approximately 12-24 hours, which allows fewer injections per day.

Some of the brands are:

  • Humulin N (NPH)
  • Novolin N (NPH)

Long-acting insulin

Long-acting insulin requires only one injection per day, which makes it the most comfortable option for people who have just started their therapy. The effect starts within 90 minutes-2 hours after being injected and lasts for about 24-48 hours.

This type of insulin is also known as "basal". The most searched brands of basal insulin are:

  • Levemir (insulin detemir)
  • Tresiba (insulin degludec)
  • Basaglar (insulin glargine)

Pre-mixed insulin: the best of two worlds

Pre-mixed insulin is a good choice for patients with type 1 diabetes, as the basis of their therapy is combining rapid- and long-acting insulins. Pre-mixed one combines the characteristics of both, with short onset time and long duration of action. This allows patients to take only one injection instead of two. Unfortunately, this excludes the possibility of a separate correction.

Some of the pre-mixed insulins are:

  • Humalog Mix 50/50 (insulin lispro)
  • Humalog Mix 75/25 (insulin lispro)
  • Humulin 70/30 (human recombinant)

Which type of insulin is the best option?

With all the different types of insulin available for patients, it can be hard to find the perfect one. As long as there is a variety of diabetes conditions, there is no such thing as the best type of insulin. Each and every one of them acts differently and meets the needs of unique people. What's important is to remember to consult a healthcare provider. A doctor will help their patient to determine how many units of insulin must be injected, choose a daily time of injection and a suitable brand of insulin.

Following a physician's prescription will reduce the risk of possible side effects. And sticking to hygiene rules, such as not sharing an injector pen with other people, will ensure the safety of the patient's health, regardless of the chosen type and brand of insulin.

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