Insulin A to Z: A Guide on Different Types of Insulin
Elizabeth Blair, A.N.P., at Joslin Diabetes Center, helps break down the different types of insulin and how they work for people with diabetes.
Types of Insulin for People with Diabetes
Rapid-acting: Usually taken before a meal to cover the blood glucose elevation from eating. This type of insulin is used with longer-acting insulin.
Short-acting: Usually taken about 30 minutes before a meal to cover the blood glucose elevation from eating. This type of insulin is used with longer-acting insulin.
Intermediate-acting: Covers the blood glucose elevations when rapid-acting insulins stop working. This type of insulin is often combined with rapid- or short-acting insulin and is usually taken twice a day.
Long-acting: This type of insulin is often combined, when needed, with rapid- or short-acting insulin. It lowers blood glucose levels when rapid-acting insulins stop working. It is taken once or twice a day
(how long insulin
(time period when
insulin is most effective)
(length of time before
insulin reaches bloodstream)
|3 - 5 hours||30 minutes - 3 hours||10 - 30 minutes||Humalog
|Up to 12 hours||2 - 5 hours||30 minutes - 1 hour||Regular (R)||Short-acting|
|Up to 24 hours||4 - 12 hours||1.5 - 4 hours||NPH (N)||Intermediate-
|Up to 24 hours||Minimal peak||0.8 - 4 hours||Lantus