Type 2 Diabetes-Learning About Insulin

Learning About Insulin

Insulin helps the body use sugar from the blood for energy. There is always some sugar in the blood. This means the pancreas needs to make small amounts of insulin all through the day. When you eat, your blood sugar goes up. This means the pancreas needs to make extra insulin during meals. When you are more active, your body uses more sugar and needs less insulin.

When you have diabetes, blood sugar stays high. Taking insulin shots is one way to treat diabetes. All insulin used to treat diabetes is made in a lab.

There are many different kinds of insulin. The kind you may need depends on your activity, eating habits, and how your body responds to insulin. Your doctor or nurse will work with you to match your needs with the kind of insulin that might work well for you.

Insulin that lasts all through the day

There are two kinds of insulin that can control blood sugar all through the day. They are intermediate-acting and long-acting insulin. Both kinds give a constant, low level of insulin all through the day. Usually this means one or two shots a day.

Insulin that lasts all through the day:

lasts all day
Generic Name Brand Name
Intermediate-acting insulin
NPH Humulin® N

Novolin® N

Long-acting insulin
Insulin detemir Levemir®
Insulin glargine Lantus®

Insulin for meal times

After time, one kind of insulin may not be enough to control blood sugar. Your doctor or nurse may add insulin that is used at meal times. There are two kinds of insulin that control blood sugar at meal times. They are fast-acting and short-acting insulin. These kinds of insulin work quickly and last for a short period of time. They cover the high blood sugar from eating a meal. This can mean taking two or more shots a day.

Insulin for Meal Times:

for meal times Generic Name Brand Name
Short-acting insulin
Regular Humulin® R

Novolin® R

Fast-acting insulin
Insulin aspart NovoLog®
Insulin glulisine Apidra®
Insulin lispro Humalog®

Premixed insulin for all day and meals

Some people with diabetes need both kinds of insulin. They need insulin that lasts all through the day and insulin for meal times. Premixed insulin combines both kinds of coverage. It gives you quick coverage for a meal plus longer coverage for other times of the day. If you take premixed insulin, you may need fewer shots each day.

There are different types of premixed insulin.

  • Premixed NPH/regular insulin is made by combining NPH and regular insulin.
  • Newer premixed insulin is the other type of premixed insulin. It is made by combining insulin aspart (NovoLog®) or insulin lispro (Humalog®) with a longer lasting insulin made only for the mix.

Insulin that covers both (all through the day and meal times):

for all day and meal times Generic Name Brand Name
Premixed NPH/regular insulin
NPH/regular 70/30 Humulin® 70/30

Novolin ®70/30

NPH/regular 50/50 Humulin® 50/50
Newer premixed insulin
Insulin aspart 70/30 NovoLog® Mix 70/30
Insulin lispro 75/25 Humalog® Mix75/25
Insulin lispro 50/50 Humalog® Mix50/50

The numbers used to name the premixed insulin tell you the percent of each kind of insulin in the mixture. The amount of longer lasting insulin is written first. For example, a 70/30 mix means 70 percent of the mix is a longer lasting insulin and 30 percent is quick coverage for a meal.