Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas and controls the amount of sugar/glucose in the blood stream. Insulin also helps in storing glucose in the liver, fatty tissue, and muscle, also manages the metabolism of carbohydrate, fat, and protein. But, if somebody cannot produce insulin or does not produce enough or cannot utilize insulin then the person is diagnosed with diabetes mellitus (type 1 or 2). Insulin is needed for diabetes mellitus type 1 patients and also in some cases of type 2 diabetes mellitus.
There are many types of insulin for use. It is best to be able to understand the available choices. The American Diabetes Association classified insulin based on the onset and period of it circulates in the body. Some important terms are onset (how quickly does the insulin can reduce your blood glucose), peak time (insulin at maximum strength), and duration (how long insulin works to reduce blood glucose)
The doctor will prescribe the most suitable type of insulin for each patient based on:
- Ability to manage blood glucose
- Length of time for the body to absorb insulin and active period (different for each person)
There are 5 types of insulin commonly prescribed:
- Rapid-acting insulin
This type of insulin works rapidly to affect the blood glucose within 15 minutes of injection and the peak is within 1 hour and still give effects for few hours afterwards.
- Short-acting insulin
Short acting insulin reaches the blood stream in 30 minutes after injection. The peak is in 2-3 hours and still effective for 3-6 hours.
- Intermediate-acting insulin
This category included in NPH (neutral protamine hagedorn) insulin that can control blood glucose for 10-12 hours. Protamin is the type of protein that can prolong the work of insulin.
- Long-acting insulin
This type of insulin enters the blood stream 1-2 hours after injection and can stay effective up to 24 hours. It is beneficial because there is no peak time and more similar to the insulin from pancreas.
- Premixed/combination insulin
Premixed or combination insulin contains mix of rapid or short-acting insulin with intermediate-acting. It is much easier because it does not need separate injection.
Different insulin brand also differs in onset, peak time, and duration although coming from the same factory production. Insulin administration poses risk for hypoglycemia or low blood sugar if the patient does not eat adequately. Make sure the patient maintains a balanced diet after using insulin. The family needs to be familiar with types of insulin, read the instruction first, and always follow the doctor’s orders.