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Different Insulin Injection Types — Important Info for Diabetics

Medically reviewed by Jezreel Esguerra, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Hello Sehat · Updated Feb 27, 2023

Different Insulin Injection Types — Important Info for Diabetics

Ensuring blood sugar levels remain normal is the key to a healthy life for diabetics (diabetes mellitus patients). In addition, some diabetics also need to comply with doctor’s recommendations to undergo diabetes treatment with insulin injection therapy. However, do you know the different insulin injection types and their uses? 

insulin injection types

What Is Insulin?

Giving insulin injections as part of diabetes treatment is also known as insulin therapy.

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), the group most in need of insulin injections is type 1 diabetes patients.

Type 1 diabetes is caused by an autoimmune disorder that results in the destruction of the natural insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Because of this, the body cannot produce enough insulin. That’s why type 1 diabetic patients need insulin injections to replace it.

Insulin is a natural hormone from the pancreas that helps the body’s cells process glucose (blood sugar) from food into energy. And it needs to be injected into the body. Artificial insulin does not come in pill form because it can be destroyed in the process of digestion.

Insulin is injected into the fat tissue just beneath the skin. This helps the insulin flow into the bloodstream so that it works more quickly.

Type 2 diabetes patients can generally manage diabetes without using insulin injections. However, patients may need insulin therapy if lifestyle changes and diabetes medications are not able to control blood sugar levels.

Insulin Injection Types

Insulin therapy for the treatment of type 1 diabetes should be initiated as soon as possible upon diagnosis.

A set of insulin injections usually consists of a short, thin syringe and a container or tube filled with insulin. This therapy uses thinner needles to reduce pain, irritation and side effects of wounds caused by injections.

There are several insulin injection types according to how quickly insulin works in controlling blood sugar levels.

1. Rapid-Acting Insulin

Rapid-acting insulin works very quickly to lower the body’s blood sugar levels. Usually, patients take this insulin injection about 15 minutes before eating.

Here are some examples of rapid-acting insulin:

  • Lispro (Humalog)

This insulin takes about 15-30 minutes to reach the blood vessels and is able to lower blood sugar levels in 30-60 minutes.

This drug can maintain normal blood sugar for 3-5 hours.

  • Aspart (Novorapid)

This insulin only takes 10-20 minutes to enter the blood vessels and can lower blood sugar levels in 40-50 minutes.

This drug can maintain normal blood sugar levels for 3-5 hours.

This insulin takes about 20-30 minutes to reach the blood vessels and is able to lower blood sugar within 30-90 minutes.

This type of insulin can maintain blood sugar levels for 1-2,5 hours.

2. Short-Acting Insulin (Regular Insulin)

Regular insulin is also able to lower blood sugar levels quickly, although not as fast as rapid-acting insulin .

Usually, diabetic patients use this insulin injection 30-60 minutes before eating.

Regular insulin is able to reach the blood vessels within 30-60 minutes and works quickly by spending 2-5 hours.

This drug is also able to maintain blood sugar levels for 5-8 hours.

3. Intermediate-Acting Insulin

Intermediate-acting insulin is a type of insulin injection that has a moderate working time. This type of insulin takes 1-3 hours to start working.

The optimal time for this kind of insulin is 8 hours, but it can maintain blood sugar conditions for 12-16 hours.

4. Long-Acting Insulin

Long-acting insulin, or basal insulin, can work all day. That’s why long-acting insulin is mostly used at night and only used once a day.

Typically, patients take long-acting insulin with either rapid-acting or short-acting (bolus insulin) insulin.

Based on how they work and how they are used, basal insulin and bolus insulin can be said to be inversely related.

Here are some examples of long-acting insulin or basal insulin.

  • Glargine (Lantus), able to reach the blood vessels in 1-1.5 hours and maintain blood sugar levels for approximately 20 hours.
  • Detemir (Levemir), reaches the blood vessels in about 1-2 hours and works for 24 hours.
  • Insulin degludec (Tresiba), enters the bloodstream in 30-90 minutes and works for 42 hours.

The dose of insulin for each person is also different. Your doctor may prescribe several combinations of insulin injection types for you.

Therefore, consult your doctor regarding the schedule and dose of insulin therapy that is right for your condition.

In general, the principle of giving insulin to diabetic patients is to start at a small dose and increase it gradually.

Insulin Injection Types: Insulin Pens

Injections can be difficult to administer. That’s why insulin treatment for diabetes is more practical with an insulin pen.

An insulin pen is a pen-shaped device that assists the process of injecting insulin. One of the advantages of insulin pens over other insulin injection types is that there is dose control. That way, you can inject insulin more easily in the right dose.

Injection using an insulin pen also tends to be more comfortable.

The needles are not very visible either. As a result, the insulin pen becomes more friendly for those who have a phobia of needles.

There are two types of insulin pens, namely disposable insulin pens and insulin pens that you can use repeatedly. These can last for several years. However, many experts recommend that patients use disposable insulin pens.

How To Store Insulin

Insulin injections are usually packaged in vials or cartridges. You must store this insulin bottle at a certain storage temperature.

Insulin usually lasts only one month at room temperature. Therefore, the best place to store insulin is in the refrigerator. That way, insulin can be preserved until its expiration date.

Here are some things you need to pay attention to when storing insulin.

  • Avoid storing insulin injections in a closed room with temperatures that are too hot or too cold.
  • Do not store injectable insulin in the freezer or close to the freezer compartment because insulin can freeze. Frozen insulin is no longer effective even after you have thawed it.
  • Always check the expiration date of insulin before using it.
  • Pay attention to the color of the insulin in the bottle. Make sure the color of the insulin has not changed from the first time you bought it.
  • Do not use insulin when there is a change in color and consistency, or there are other particles in it.
  • Do not store the insulin pen with the needle attached. Remove the needle when you are not using it to keep the device sterile.
  • If you take injectable insulin with you when traveling, do not store it in a compartment that is too hot or cold.
  • Do not leave insulin in a parked car during the day.

Different insulin injection types have different storage requirements. Make sure to read the instructions for use on the packaging.

Learn more about Diabetes here.


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Jezreel Esguerra, MD

General Practitioner

Written by Hello Sehat · Updated Feb 27, 2023

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