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5 Types of Insulin and What to Know About Them

Insulin is by far the most common treatment for T1D. It is also prescribed for gestational and chronic type 2 diabetes.

There are five types of insulin you should be aware of:

  • Rapid-acting insulin works very quickly (in about 15 minutes) but it also wears off quickly compared to other types (about 2 to 4 hours later).
  • Regular insulin is also known as short-acting insulin and starts working in about 30 minutes. It takes anywhere from 3 to 6 hours to wear off.
  • Intermediate-acting insulin takes about 3 hours to start working, but it can last up to 18 hours. It is also called “intermediate insulin.”
  • Long-acting insulin can last up to 1 day, but it does not begin working as quickly as the types above.
  • Ultra long-acting insulin takes about 6 hours to begin working. However, as its name suggests, it is the longest-acting form of insulin, working for up to 36 hours and sometimes even longer.

In addition to these options, there is also a type of human-made insulin called Afrezza, which can be inhaled instead of injected. T1D patients can use Afrezza together with long-acting insulin.

Unlike type 1 diabetes, pregnancy diabetes may not require insulin. Doctors may ask those who have diabetes while pregnant to go on a gestational diabetes diet before trying other options like insulin.


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