If your doctor decides to prescribe insulin, they will let you know which form to use and show you how to use it. They will also tell you which type of insulin to use because some are built up in your system while others work very quickly. Your doctor will also tell you how much insulin to use, when to use it, and when to check your blood sugar levels.

Insulin comes in many forms and is classified based on how quickly the insulin begins to work and how long it can remain active.

Here is a list of the types of insulin based on how long they work:1


Rapid acting:

  • Insulin lispro
  • Insulin aspart
  • Insulin glulisine

Intermediate acting:

  • Insulin NPH
  • Insulin lispro protamine

Short acting:

  • Insulin regular

Long acting:

  • Insulin glargine
  • Insulin detemir

Very long acting:

  • Insulin degludec
  • Insulin glargine 300 units/mL

Insulin pumps

Insulin pumps are mainly for people who were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. These pumps allow for insulin to be continuously delivered instead of getting insulin shots every day.

Most pumps deliver insulin through a special tube called a catheter. The end of the catheter is placed under your skin, and the pump attaches to the other end. The catheter remains in place for two to three days. Your health care provider will help teach you how to change this catheter quickly and painlessly.

hese pumps are specially programmed to give a small amount of insulin every few minutes throughout the day and night. In order to find the perfect amount of insulin to administer through the pump, you will have to check your blood sugar levels four to seven times a day.

Advantages of using a pump include more flexibility in the timing of meals and other day-to-day events. This is very helpful in individuals whose schedule vary from one day to the next. Also, no injections are required through the day.

Not everyone is able to get a pump, especially if there is the possibility to control your diabetes through other means such as diet, lifestyle changes, exercise, and other medicines.

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1Wexler DJ, Nathan DM, and Mulder JE. Patient education: Type 2 diabetes: Insulin Treatment (Beyond the Basics). UpToDate. Wolters Kluwer, 2020
2Wexler DJ, Nathan DM, and Mulder JE. Patient education: Type 2 diabetes: Treatment (Beyond the Basics). UpToDate. Wolters Kluwer, 2020