There are several different types of insulin available to manage diabetes. The right one for you will depend on your health condition. Short-acting, rapid-acting, intermediate-acting, long-acting, and NPH insulin are five main types of insulin that we use for diabetes management.
Understanding these different types of insulin and their uses is critical for diabetes management. Let’s look at the five main types of insulin and how they control blood sugar levels.
What are the 5 Types of Insulin?
- Short-acting insulin
Short-acting insulin provides immediate control of blood sugar levels. It is your first line of defense against rising blood sugar. It would be best if you took short-acting insulin with every meal. Short-acting insulin is taken at every meal because it doesn’t last very long, and a patient cannot take it at different times of the day. Moreover, short-acting insulin effectively covers food exceptionally high in carbohydrates or fat. Examples include Humalog, NovoLog, and Apidra.
- Rapid-acting insulin
Fast-acting or rapid acting insulin is the best option during times of increased blood sugar. It is also taken with meals high in carbohydrates and when exercising. Unlike short-acting insulin is not meant to be taken throughout the day. Examples include Humulin R, Novolin R, and Apidra.
- Intermediate-acting insulin
Intermediate-acting insulin controls blood sugar levels between meals when blood sugar is low. People with type 2 diabetes can also take it long-term to lower blood sugar levels. Intermediate-acting insulin is also used with rapid-acting insulin for best results during meals. Examples include NPH, Humulin N, and Novolin N.
- Long-acting insulin
Long-acting insulin is taken once daily or less to manage meals throughout the dayand they last for the entire day. Pick one time in a day to take this insulin. Long acting insulin prevents blood sugar from dropping too low. Examples include Lantus, Apidra, and Levemir.
- NPH Insulin
Neutral Protamine Hagedorn (NPH) insulin is a mix of short- and intermediate-acting insulin and is taken regularly. It is a good choice for people who want to use long-acting insulin but are currently taking short- or intermediate-acting insulin. NPH insulin can also be an option for people who are just starting to manage their diabetes and need to keep blood sugar levels steady. Examples include Humulin NPH and Novolin NPH.
Types of Insulin
Mixed insulin is a pre-mixed combination of very rapid-acting or short-acting insulin and intermediate-acting insulin. Currently available mixed insulins include the following:
- rapid-acting and intermediate-acting insulin
- rapid-acting and long-acting inslulin
- Ryzodeg 70:30 (70% long acting Degludec, 30% rapid Aspart)
- short-acting and intermediate-acting insulin
- Mixtard 30/70 (30% short, 70% intermediate Protaphane)
- Mixtard 50/50 (50% short, 50% intermediate Protaphane)
- Humulin 30/70 (30% short, 70% intermediate Humulin NPH).