When to Take Insulin for Diabetes

September 28, 2019 / Diabetic Digest

What You Need To Know About Insulin For Diabetes

Insulin administration is an important facet of managing Diabetes. Insulin is taken to balance glucose in the blood. In general, insulin is taken before meals. A good rule of thumb is that insulin should be administered in the morning before breakfast, in the evening before dinner, and then supplementary through the day as needed. The precise dosage and recommended times to take insulin will be prescribed by the physician, known as an endocrinologist. The insulin should be taken approximately 15 minutes before meals so that the insulin will be able to react with the food as the body processes it.

What Does Insulin Do?

Insulin is one of a number of hormones that are produced in the Islets of Langerhans that are in the pancreas. The function of insulin is to act as a key allowing glucose to enter the cells of the body for energy production. Glucose is a simple sugar that the body uses for it’s most basic functions. The human brain, as an example, uses glucose for all of the many functions it has. Without insulin, the body would be at a loss to break down glucose. Opposed to insulin is Glucagon, another hormone produced in the Islets of Langerhans in the pancreas. Glucagon, unlike insulin, is used to release stored glucose into the blood when the blood glucose levels are too low. Insulin and Glucagon work in opposition to each other to keep the blood glucose levels at an optimum range.

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When to Take Insulin for Diabetes

How To Take Insulin

Insulin is administered into the body through an injection. Many different methods of administering insulin are available to diabetics today. The general method is injecting insulin into the fatty tissues of the body. In this technique, insulin is drawn from insulin vials into an insulin syringe which usually has a short and very fine needle. Upon drawing the required dosage from the insulin vial the insulin is then injected into the preferred injection site. The most common areas used for insulin injection are the stomach, thighs, back of the arms, and buttocks. It is important to make sure to inject the insulin into fatty tissue approximately 1 inch into the skin avoiding veins or arteries. This is known as a subcutaneous, or below the skin injection. It is also important to vary the injection site to avoid bruising and other issues that imaginably arise with repeated injection. Many diabetics use a pump to facilitate blood glucose management. The pump has an insert that is attached to a tube that further is connected to a device that slowly administers insulin through the day based on digital settings. This for many is a very convenient way of keeping blood glucose levels in an ideal range. Another tool used by diabetics is an insulin pen. The insulin pen looks like a pen and has an insulin vial built into it. The needle is a replaceable screw-on micro-fine needle. As with traditional injecting, the syringe should be discarded into a proper sharps disposal receptacle. The syringes can then be taken to a facility that handles and ultimately disposes of the used syringes and provide a fresh receptacle.

Insulin Is A Hormone

Insulin, which is a hormone, is available in many different types. They are all available from a pharmacy in vials that are refrigerated to preserve them. This hormone will breakdown and lose it’s effectiveness if not refrigerated. Insulin comes in 100 units/mL concentration and insulin syringes are graduated to accommodate this concentration.

Types Of Insulin

• Very Rapid- This insulin begins to work within 8-10 minutes, has a peak at about 1-hour post-injection and will continue to have an effect for 2-4 hours post-injection. Examples of this type of insulin are Humalog and Novolog
• Rapid- This insulin begins to work within 30 minutes post-injection, peaks about 4 hours post-injection, and can continue to have an effect for up to 10 hours post-injection. An example of this type of insulin is Regular or R insulin
• Intermediate- This insulin begins to work approximately 1-hour post-injection, peaks about 8-10 hours post-injection, and can continue to have an effect for up to 24 hours. Examples of this type of insulin are NPH and Lente insulins
• Long- This insulin begins to work within 4-8 hours, has a peak at about 12 hours, and can continue to have an effect for up to 24 hours. Examples of this type of insulin are Ultralente and Glargine
• Pre-Mixed- This type of insulin contains 1 of 3 stable premixed solutions
1. 70/30- Formulated by 70% NPH and 30% R
2. 50/50- Formulated by 50% NPH and 50% R
3. 75/25- Formulated by 75% NPH and 25% Humalog
These solutions begin to work approximately 30 minutes after injection, peak approximately 2-
8 hours after injection, and can continue to have an effect for 24 hours

Do Type 2 Diabetics Take Insulin?

Generally speaking, Type 2 Diabetics do not have to take insulin via subcutaneous injection. As the disease continues and the length of time a person has Type 2 Diabetes the chances of having to take insulin will increase. Type 2 Diabetics are often prescribed dietary changes and increasing physical activity to manage their condition. In addition, a doctor may prescribe oral medications to decrease the resistance to insulin that is indicative of Type 2 Diabetes. Type 2 Diabetes has been seen to go into remission with changes in lifestyle including weight loss, dietary changes, and increased physical activity.

About Our Guest Writer:

Tim Delaney, Content Writer.  Tim studied Environmental Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  He is an avid outdoor enthusiast, loves to surf, is passionate about health, and discovering ways to enjoy life with diabetes.

Tim Delaney

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When to Take Insulin for Diabetes FAQs

Can I get financial aid for my insulin purchases?

Yes! In the US many patient assistance programs can offer partial or total cost coverage, but it may take time to process. Outside of the US, most pharmacies will sell insulin at affordable rates and often without the need for a prescription so there should not be the need for financial assistance, but government assistance for insulin is readily available.

Can I get my insulin delivered to my home?

Yes. Your healthcare provider should be able to work with your local pharmacy or another distributor to get insulin delivered to your home in as little as 24 hours and shipping should never take more than two days because of the need for the insulin to be transported in a cold, thermally insulated container.

Can insulin expire or go bad?

Yes. This is why it needs to be kept in cool, dark spaces (preferably a refrigerator), until in use. Heat is detrimental to the potency of insulin, but in temperatures no warmer than 25C/77F can maintain potency for 28 days. Temperatures above 25C/77F will cause insulin to degrade more quickly.

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