When this type of insulin is mixed with regular insulin (a short-acting insulin), it can help control blood sugar levels for a longer period of time.
What are the risks of using this type of insulin?
Patients who take NPH insulin have a somewhat higher risk of developing hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels) due to improper insulin administration.
This is likely because of inadequate resuspension of the drug. To avoid this, rotate the vial several times until it is uniformly cloudy prior to administering the medication.
When taken at night, this type of insulin typically peaks during midnight, when the body typically does not need much insulin.
This can cause nocturnal hypoglycemia. Alternatively, patients are also at risk of developing fasting hyperglycemia, as the duration of NPH insulin typically does not last until the morning. These effects can be avoided by giving the insulin at bedtime rather than after the evening meal.
Other side effects of insulin intake include weight gain, edema, decreased potassium, skin atrophy or hypertrophy at the site of injection.
Who should take NPH insulin?
Patients with Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus may take this type of insulin, though the dosage may vary according to the blood sugar level of the patient.
Who should not take this type of insulin?
Patients taking NPH insulin should immediately stop taking this medication and consult their physician for alternative therapies if they manifest any of the following:
- An allergic/ hypersensitivity reaction which can manifest as itchiness and redness on the skin or a rash all over the body.
- If they have repeated episodes of severe hypoglycemia, which can manifest as shakiness, sweating, chills, irritability, fast heartbeat, hunger, nausea and vomiting, headaches, or sleepiness.