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Home Knowledge Center Wellness Library Types of Insulin

Types of Insulin

Overview

Insulin is used to treat people who have diabetes. How quickly insulin starts to work and how long it lasts will be different depending the type of insulin you use. Other factors that can affect insulin and your blood sugar are exercise, diet, illness, some medicines, stress, the dose, how you take it, or where you inject it. The table below is a general guide. Your results may be different.

Insulin is available in several strengths. U-100 is the most common. U-100 means there are 100 units of insulin in one milliliter of fluid. Other strengths include U-200, U-300, and U-500. For example, U-500 is five times more concentrated than U-100 regular insulin. Be sure to check the concentration of your insulin so you take the right amount.

Insulin is made by different companies. Ask your doctor or diabetes educator about the type of insulin you have and how to use it. See the table below for types of insulin and some examples. footnote 1

Types of insulin
Type Examples Appearance When it starts to work (onset) How long it lasts (duration)
Rapid-acting insulins (bolus insulin) are usually taken at the start of a meal.

Insulin aspart (Fiasp)

Insulin glulisine (Apidra)

Insulin lispro (Humalog)

Clear 10–20 minutes 2–4 hours
Rapid-acting insulin also comes in a form that can be inhaled through the mouth. Insulin human inhalation powder (Afrezza) Contained in a cartridge 12 minutes 1½–3 hours
Short-acting insulins (bolus insulin) are usually taken a short time before a meal.

Insulin regular (Humulin-R U-100, Novolin R, and Novolin R ReliOn)

Clear 30–60 minutes 5–8 hours
Intermediate-acting insulins (basal insulin) are usually taken between meals and at bedtime.

Insulin NPH (Humulin-N, Novolin-N, and Novolin ReliOn)

Cloudy 1–3 hours Up to 24 hours
Long-acting insulins (basal insulin) are usually taken between meals and at bedtime.

Insulin detemir (Levemir)

Insulin glargine (Lantus and Basaglar)

Insulin regular (Humulin R U-500)

Clear 60–90 minutes (30 minutes for U-500) Up to 24 hours
Ultra long-acting insulins (basal insulin) are usually taken between meals and at bedtime.

Insulin degludec (Tresiba)

Insulin glargine (Toujeo)

Clear 1 hour (up to 6 hours for insulin glargine) 36–42 hours

Mixtures of insulin can sometimes be combined in the same syringe, for example, intermediate-acting and rapid- or short-acting insulin. Not all insulins can be mixed together.

For convenience, there are premixed rapid- and intermediate-acting insulins. These come in a premixed ratio, such as 75/25, 70/30, and 50/50. For example, 75/25 means the mixture is 75% intermediate-acting insulin and 25% rapid-acting insulin. They are usually taken 2 times a day at the start of a meal. These insulins look cloudy. The insulin will start to work as quickly as the fastest-acting insulin in the combination. It will last as long as the longest-acting insulin. Examples include:

  • Insulin regular and insulin NPH.
  • Insulin lispro and insulin lispro protamine.
  • Insulin aspart and insulin aspart protamine.
References

References

Citations

  1. American Diabetes Association. Insulin. The Consumer Guide. American Diabetes Association. https://consumerguide.diabetes.org/collections/insulin. Accessed November 4, 2021.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.

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Related Links

Type 1 Diabetes: Children Living With the Disease Type 1 Diabetes Type 2 Diabetes in Children Type 2 Diabetes

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