Insulin types

Web Resource Last Updated: 30-11-2023

This is a brief guide to the types of insulin and how long each type of insulin lasts over a 24-hour period.

Please note, insulins in each group can vary in their effect and duration of action. Visit the manufactures website for specific information about your insulin.

       

        Rapid-acting

        Short-acting

        Intermediate-acting

        Long-acting

 

 

 

 

Rapid-acting insulin 

 

 

Area graph showing effect of prapid acting insulin over time.  Peak at 1 hour.  Zero effect at 3

The fastest-acting insulin, usually taken 10-15 minutes before meals or as a correction dose. Starts working in 10-15 minutes and lasts 2–5 hours.

Examples include insulin aspart (Novorapid®), insulin lispro (Humalog®), insulin glulisine (Apidra®), insulin aspart (Trurapi®. FiAsp®).

 

 

 

 

 

Short-acting insulin 

 

 

Area graph showing effect of short-acting insulin over time.  Peak at 3 hours.  No effect by 6 hours

Short-acting insulin is usually taken about 30 minutes before meals. Starts working in 30 minutes to 1 hour and lasts up to 8 hours.

Examples include human soluble insulin (Actrapid®, Humulin® S and Insuman Rapid®).

 

 

 

 

 

Intermediate-acting insulin 

 

 

Area graph showing effect of intermediate-acting insulin.  Peaking at 8 hours. Effect stopping at 22 hours

Usually taken once or twice a day. Starts working within 2 hours and lasts 8–14 hours.

Examples include isophane insulin (Insuman® Basal, Insulatard® and Humulin® I)

 

 

 

 

 

Long-acting insulin

 

 

Area graph showing effect of long acting insulin over time.  Reaches peak effect at 6 hours and continues trailing off at 24 hours

Usually taken once or twice a day. Starts working within 2 hours and lasts up to 18–24 hours.

Examples include insulin detemir (Levemir®), insulin glargine (Abasaglar®, Semglee®, Lantus®, Toujeo®) and insulin degludec (Tresiba®).

 

 

 

 

 

Mixed insulin

 

 

Area graph showing effect of mixed insulin over time.  Shorter acting insulin peaks at 30 minutes and tails of quickly to zero at 6 hours.  Longer acting insulin peaks at 8 hours  and tails off at 24 hours.

These insulins are a mixture of shorter-acting and longer-acting insulins and come in different preparations. Usually taken twice or three times daily, between 15–30 minutes before food. Starts working within 30 minutes (depending on short-acting insulin).

Examples include biphasic insulin aspart (Novomix® 30), biphasic insulin lispro (Humalog® Mix 25, Humalog® Mix 50), soluble and isophane insulin (Humulin® M3, Insuman® Comb 15, Insuman® Comb 25, Insuman® Comb 50).

 

 

 

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