All You Need To Know About Insulin

Insulin is a hormone produced by beta cells of the pancreas. It deals with metabolic conversion of fats, protein and carbohydrates, especially glucose. Whenever you consume food, beta cells release insulin helping your body to regulate glucose concentration, also known as blood sugar levels. When glucose level is high, beta cells release insulin into the blood, however when glucose level is low, secretion of insulin inhibits.

When the blood sugar occurs too high, it may lead to Diabetes.  Chronic diabetes conditions include type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. In case of type 1 diabetes, pancreas no longer produces insulin and affected people need to use shots of insulin to process glucose from food. People with type 2 diabetes have insulin resistance. Therefore, they usually need diabetes medication helping their bodies to use glucose.

Insulin used for treatment of diabetes has different types depending on its strength and mechanism of action. There are 3 main characteristics of insulin, such as:

  • Onset – length of time before insulin hits your bloodstream and begins to lower your blood sugar;
  • Peak – time of maximum effectiveness of lowering blood glucose;
  • Duration – length of time insulin continues to lower blood sugar.

Insulin mechanism of action depends on type of insulin and how this particular insulin peaks along with the insulin medication’s onset and duration.

Thus, the rapid-acting insulin starts acting in 15 minutes after injection; peaks in about 1 hour and lasts to work for 2-4 hours. This includes Insulin glulisine (Apidra), insulin lispro (Admelog, Humalog), insulin aspart (Fiasp, Novolog). 

Regular insulin shows 30 minutes’ onset, peaks from 2 to 3 hours and works 3-6 hours after injection. Human Regular (Humulin R, Novolin R and Velosulin R).

Intermediate-acting insulin begins to work about 2 to 4 hours after injection, peaks 4 to 12 hours later, and is effective for about 12 to 18 hours. NPH (Humulin N, Novolin N, ReliOn).

Long-acting insulin reaches the bloodstream several hours after injection and lowes glucose levels up to 24 hours. Detemir (Levemir), and glargine (Basaglar, Lantus) enter into this type of insulin.

Ultra long-acting insulin needs around 6 hours to reach your bloodstream, does not peak, and works about 36 hours or longer. This includes degludec (Tresiba), glargine u-300 (Toujeo).

Inhaled insulin Afrezza is available since 2015. This is a rapid-acting insulin with 12-15 minutes’ onset, that peaks in 30 minutes and works for 180 minutes. This medication can be taking by adults with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. However, patients using long-acting insulin must combine Afrezza with injections of long-acting insulin.

Patients with poor eyesight or dexterity may find useful to administrate premixed insulin. This can be a case even for people with diabetes that has been stabilize on this particular combination.

As to the insulin strengths, the most common is U-100, which means it consists of 100 units of insulin per milliliter. However, the patients with high insulin resistance can be prescribed with U-500 insulin.

All insulin comes as a solution or a liquid to be injected under the skin. It is important that the syringe size matches your insulin strength.  

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