PD_Medicine and Healthcare_MHE_046Insulin is a hormone in the body that helps control glucose levels in the blood. It helps transport glucose from the bloodstream to the cells for energy. Glucose is needed by all cells to perform their functions.

People with type 1 diabetes are unable to make insulin. While those with type 2 diabetes can make insulin, the body is resistant to it and unable to use it appropriately. As a result, glucose builds up in the bloodstream and the cells become starved, which can lead to serious health problems.

Insulin Shots

If you have diabetes, you may need to take insulin shots to make up for your body’s inability to make or use naturally occurring insulin. You may need anywhere from 1-4 shots a day. Aside from a needle, the medication may also be given using a special pen or pump.

How much insulin you need depends on several factors, such as your:

  • Body weight
  • Body fat percentage
  • Physical activity level
  • Diet
  • Other medications that you take
  • Emotional health, including your level of stress
  • Overall health

Insulin Types

There are different types of insulin that your doctor may prescribe:

TYPEALSO CALLEDDESCRIPTIONONSETDURATIONGENERIC NAMES
Rapid-acting insulinMealtime insulin

Usually taken before a meal to target the sugars consumed during mealtime

Works quickly and does not last long

Lispro—15 minutes
Aspart—15 minutes
Glulisine—15 minutes
Lispro—3-5 hours
Aspart—3-5 hours
Glulisine—3-5 hours
Lispro
Aspart
Glulisine
Short-acting insulinMealtime insulin

Usually taken before a meal to target the sugars consumed during mealtime

Works quickly and does not last long

30 minutes-1 hour5-8 hoursRegular insulin
Intermediate-acting insulinBasal insulin
Background insulin

Keeps blood sugar under control after rapid-acting insulin has stopped working

Slowly absorbed by the body and is long-lasting

1-3 hours 10-16 hoursNPH
Long-acting insulinBasal insulin
Background insulin

Keeps blood sugar under control after rapid-acting insulin has stopped working

Slowly absorbed by the body and is long-lasting

1 hour20-26 hoursGlargine
Detemir

There is also premixed insulin, which is a combination of two types. The mix usually consists of rapid- or short-acting insulin combined with intermediate-acting insulin.

You and your doctor will create a diabetes management plan that will outline steps for controlling your diabetes, which involves diet, physical activity, and medications like insulin. You may need to try different insulin doses or types until you find the regimen that works best for you.