Diabetes Prescription Insulin Medications
Gary D. Vogin, MD
Dr. Vogin is a board-certified general internist, having completed his residency in internal medicine at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia in June 1994. Before deciding on internal medicine, Vogin prepared for a career in pathology and was Outstanding Transitional First Year Graduate at St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, N.J., in 1991.
- What is the diabetes medication insulin and how does it work?
- For what conditions is the diabetes medication insulin used?
- Are there differences among types of insulin?
- How is the diabetes drug insulin administered?
- How should the diabetes medication insulin be stored?
- How often should blood glucose be checked when taking insulin?
- What are the side effects of the diabetes drug insulin?
- What are the drug interactions with the diabetes medication insulin?
- What are warnings and precautions the diabetes drug insulin?
- What are some examples of insulin?
- For related diabetes medication information:
Prescription Oral Diabetes Medications - on RxList
What is the diabetes medication insulin and how does it work?
Insulin is a hormone that is produced by certain cells in the pancreas called beta cells. Insulin helps the body use blood glucose (a type of sugar) for energy. When we eat and absorb food, glucose levels rise and insulin is released.
Some people can't make insulin; those people are said to have type 1 diabetes. A person with type 2 diabetes can make insulin, but the body doesn't respond well to insulin; they are said to have “insulin resistance.”
For what conditions is the diabetes medication insulin used?
Insulin is always necessary for type 1 diabetes because the body has no internal source of insulin. People with type 2 diabetes may also need insulin, particularly those who have difficulty controlling their diabetes with oral medications.
Are there differences among types of insulin?
Insulins differ based on three characteristics: how quickly they start to work, when they reach their peak effect, and how long they last.
- Rapid-acting insulins start working in less than 15 minutes, peak in an hour, and continue working for another two to four hours.
- Regular, also known as short-acting insulin, takes about 30 minutes to reach the bloodstream. Its peak effect is in about two to three hours, and its effect lingers for three to six hours.
- Intermediate-acting insulin reaches the bloodstream in two to four hours, peaks in four to 12 hours, and works for up to 18 hours.
- Long-acting insulin takes six to 10 hours to start working, but it lasts for 20-24 hours.
Many people with diabetes may use different types of insulins to get the optimal effect on their blood sugar levels. Premixed insulins can be a convenient option for some people.
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