Insulin Types, Effects and How to Administer It

What is Insulin?

Insulin is a hormone that controls the amount of blood sugar in the body.  The people that use insulin are those with Type 1, Type 2 or Gestational diabetes.  They make the insulin for medication from pork, beef, which is no longer used in the United States, and genetically, which is the same as human insulin.

Types of Insulin

Each type is classified by how quickly they work in the body, when they reach their highest peak and how long the effects are.

  • Rapid-action: starts working in minutes and lasts about 2 hours
  • Regular or Short-acting: begins working in 30 minutes and last about 3-6 hours
  • Intermediate-acting: starts within 2-4 hours and lasts up to 18 hours
  • Long-acting: reaches the blood stream within 6-10 hours, but will last all day

Your physician will prescribe the best insulin for you.  If you take two types of insulin, make sure to space the doses throughout the day, so that you can control the levels of blood sugar no matter what eating or physical habits you have.  If insulin alone is not helping, your doctor may prescribe an oral medication to help your body accept the insulin you are giving it.  This medication will act like the hormone amylin, which is usually deficient in people with diabetes.

Types of Insulin

Effects of Insulin

  • Low blood sugar
  • Hypertrophy or area of the body expanding from too many injections
  • Rash at site of injection

How is Insulin Administered?

You can either inject the insulin under the skin (subcutaneously) or into the vein (intravenously).  It is usually injected with a needle or syringe, a cartridge, a pen or a pump.  The most effective way that body absorbs the insulin is if it is injected into the abdomen.  The next areas of the body that are effective are the arms, thighs or buttocks, but the abdomen is the best.  Although, if you are hospitalized the doctor will administer the insulin intravenously for faster reaction time.

Try to use the same area every time for better consistency, but not the same exact spot, so that you don’t scar (lipoatrophy).

It is necessary to take your insulin as the physician describes.  The time between doses depends on which insulin you use.  If you take it 30 minutes before a meal, your food will be absorbed at the same time as the insulin, which helps you from developing a reaction to low blood sugar levels.

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