Types of Insulin for People with Diabetes
- Rapid-acting: Usually taken before a meal to cover the blood glucose elevation from eating. This type of insulin is used with longer-acting insulin.
- Short-acting: Usually taken about 30 minutes before a meal to cover the blood glucose elevation from eating. This type of insulin is used with longer-acting insulin.
- Intermediate-acting: Covers the blood glucose elevations when rapid-acting insulins stop working. This type of insulin is often combined with rapid- or short-acting insulin and is usually taken twice a day.
- Long-acting: This type of insulin is often combined, when needed, with rapid- or short-acting insulin. It lowers blood glucose levels when rapid-acting insulins stop working. It is taken once or twice a day.
A Guide on Insulin Types for People with Diabetes
(length of time before
insulin reaches bloodstream)
(time period when
insulin is most effective)
|Duration(how long insulin|
|10 - 30 minutes||30 minutes - 3 hours||3 - 5 hours|
|Short-acting||Regular (R)||30 minutes - 1 hour||2 - 5 hours||Up to 12 hours|
|NPH (N)||1.5 - 4 hours||4 - 12 hours||Up to 24 hours|
|0.8 - 4 hours||Minimal peak||Up to 24 hours|
Tips for Injecting Insulin
- Stomach: Stay at least two inches away from the bellybutton, or any scars you may already have when using the abdomen for injections.
- Thigh: Inject at least 4 inches, or about one hand’s width above the knee, and at least 4 inches down from the top of the leg. The best area on the leg is the top and outer area of the thigh. Do not inject insulin into your inner thigh, because of the number of blood vessels and nerves in this area.
- Arm: Inject into fatty tissue in the back of the arm, between the shoulder and the elbow.
- Buttock: Inject into the hip or “wallet area,” and not into the lower buttock area.
- When rotating sites within one injection area, keep injections about an inch (or
two finger widths) apart.
- Do not inject into scar tissue, or areas with broken vessels,or varicose veins. Scar tissue may interfere with absorption.
- Massage or exercise that occurs immediately after the injection, may speed up absorption because of the increased circulation to the injection site. If you plan on strenuous physical activity shortly after injecting insulin, don’t inject in an area affected by the exercise. For example, if you plan to play tennis, don’t inject into your racquet arm. If you plan to jog or run, don’t inject into your thighs.
- When injecting with an insulin pen, inject straight in, and be sure to hold the pen in place for a few seconds after the insulin is delivered, to ensure that no insulin leaks out.