Tresiba and Levemir: What’s the Difference

Tresiba and Levemir are similar in many ways. Both are long-lasting (also called basal) insulin formulas. In other words, they don’t wear off for a long time in the human body,  acting on the background. The way they work can be compared to the consistently low amount of insulin that is produced by the pancreas untouched by diabetes.

Both are insulin equivalents. The molecules of Tresiba and Levemir are virtually the same as human insulin, with a slower absorption being the major distinction between them. 

These two insulins, as well as other long-acting insulin medications, are prescribed to patients struggling with diabetes of both types to reduce blood sugar levels when fast-acting insulins prove to be ineffective.

What is more, Tresiba and Levemir are produced by the same global healthcare company, Novo Nordisk Limited headquartered in Denmark.


Tresiba is a real champion among long-lasting insulins. Its active substance, insulin degludec, allows it to work up to 42 hours, no jokes. Such a unique feature makes this insulin medication ideal for those who sometimes mess up with their injection schedule due to cognitive impairment, memory loss, busy work, etc.). 

Even though an ideal solution for every patient with diabetes simply doesn’t exist, Tresiba seems to work phenomenally well for a lot of people. Its ease of use, prolonged action, and lower risks of hypoglycemia make it a go-to solution for many.

Tresiba is prescribed to:

  •  adults with type 1 diabetes
  • children over 1 year old with type 1 diabetes
  •  adults with type 2 diabetes 
  • children over 1 year old with type 1 diabetes
Tresiba and Levemir: What’s the Difference


The active substance of Levemir is insulin detemir, an acylated insulin equivalent that has prolonged action via reversible albumin binding. Levemir can be called one of the most flexible insulin medications to date. It’s perfect for those patients who suffer from roller-coaster blood sugar levels. 

Levemir is prescribed to:

  • adults with type 1 diabetes
  • children over 2 years old with type 1 diabetes
  • adults with type 2 diabetes 

By administering Levemir twice a day, you can use different doses, adjusting them to your own situation based on: 

  • what/how much you’ve eaten
  • daily stress level
  • the intensity of physical exercise
  • sleep duration
  • pain
  • alcohol use

If you suffer from the so-called “dawn phenomenon”, you can get your morning Levemir injection earlier, when the night dose is still working. On average, it reaches its peak at about 6 hrs. 

The main disadvantage is the need to adhere to a more strict injection schedule, but it’s not a huge price to pay if other medications fail to take your blood sugars under control.

How to use

Both insulins come in two liquid forms:

  • a vial
  • a pre-filled FlexTouch pen

Tresiba and Levemir need to be injected subcutaneously (under the skin) in the upper arm, abdomen, or thigh.

Weight Gain

When it comes to Tresiba’s side effect of weight gain, you can find controversial reviews from its users. Some people don’t notice any difference, whereas others confess they had to switch to other insulin medications due to a significant weight gain. On the contrary, Levemir can boast a weight-sparing effect when compared to other insulins, which is stated by its producer. If you put on weight when taking Tresiba, consider Levemir as it is less likely to lead to a noticeable weight gain.

Other Side Effects

Tresiba and Levemir have similar side effects even though their active substances differ. The most common of them include allergic reactions, itching or swelling at the site of injection, stuffy nose, headache, and stomach pain. Tresiba can also cause lipodystrophy, sinusitis, and diarrhea. The use of Levemir can result in the appearance of flu or cold symptoms and back pain. 

Since both are long-acting insulins, their use entails the the risk of developing hypoglycemia or the condition when blood sugars drop too low which might pose a threat to the patient’s life. Still, Tresiba appears to cause less hypoglycemic episodes than Levemir does, which was confirmed in the comparative study between insulin detemir and insulin degludec.

Which is cheaper?

Both are trade name drugs that don’t have any generic analogs. As a rule, Levemir costs less than Tresiba, but the price depends on several factors such as pharmacy, location, and health insurance plan.

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