We’ve been talking a lot about insulin over the past few days. So to wind up this week, here’s an overview of what insulin medication actually is, and what different types are available.
Insulin is the medication used to control type 1 and, in some cases, type 2 diabetes. Insulin lowers your blood-glucose levels, filling in for the natural insulin production that your body is lacking. Insulin is necessary in order to stay healthy and keep diabetes under control, but there are various types of insulin to take and legitimate reasons for favoring one type over another.
Before you decide which types of insulin are right for you, you need to know the differences and similarities between these medications and the keywords used to describe them.
The three insulin keywords:
- Onset refers to when the insulin starts to work.
- Peak refers to when the insulin works hardest.
- Duration refers to how long the insulin works.
The four main types of insulin:
- Rapid-acting: Taken usually right before a meal to cover the blood-glucose elevation from eating. This type is used with longer-acting insulin. Onset is 10 to 30 minutes. Peak is 30 minutes to 3 hours. Duration is 3 to 5 hours.
- Short-acting: Taken usually about 30 minutes before a meal to cover the blood-glucose elevation from eating. This type of insulin is used with longer-acting insulin. Onset is 30 to 60 minutes. Peak is 2 to 5 hours. Duration is up to 12 hours.
- Intermediate-acting: Covers the blood-glucose elevations when rapid-acting insulin stops working. Doesn’t need to be given with meal. This type is often combined with rapid- or short-acting insulin and is usually taken twice a day. Onset is 90 minutes to 4 hours. Peak is 4 to 12 hours. Duration is up to 24 hours.
- Long-acting: Combined, when needed, with rapid- or short-acting insulin. Doesn’t need to be given with meal. Lowers blood-glucose levels when rapid-acting insulin stops working. Taken once or twice a day. Onset is 45 minutes to 4 hours. Peak is minimal. Duration is up to 24 hours.
Knowing about your insulin options will help ensure that you make the correct decisions to control your diabetes. As with all health decisions, it’s important to speak with your diabetes specialist regarding any change in your treatment plan.