Healthy Living

Insulin for Diabetes

Insulin for Diabetes

Key Takeaways

  • Insulin Glulisine works by lowering the glucose levels in the blood. It takes effect in the first 15 minutes after injection then peaks in about 1 hour. It is fast-acting insulin to improve your sugar levels.
  • Insulin Detemir is long-acting. It replaces the insulin produced by your body by moving the glucose from your blood to the other body tissues where it is used to provide energy.
  • Insulin Aspart is fast-acting and quickly absorbs into your bloodstream. It is also known as analog insulin because it is a man-made version of insulin. Insulin Aspart mimics the normal pattern of how your body responds to increasing blood sugar after having a meal. 

It is a familiar story and it always goes like this, “I have frequent urination and fast heartbeat when I take my insulin”. Insulin should help you control the glucose levels in the body. When you eat food, the insulin is released into your blood stream to help move sugar into your cells to provide you with energy. A type 1 diabetic produces little or no insulin, whereas type 2 produces insulin but the body may not be able to use it properly so these patients are insulin resistant.

How to administer insulin

Insulin is best administered as an injectable. Why? Tablets of insulin would be destroyed in the stomach, so they may fail to convert to the glucose that is necessary energy for your tissues.

You can choose different methods to deliver insulin to the body, for instance, an individual may prefer an insulin syringe, insulin pump or insulin pen. Syringes come in different sizes depending on the quantity of insulin to be injected.

Types of insulin used to treat diabetes

There are different kinds of insulin that help in the treatment of diabetes. Basically, they are in five groups; fast-acting, short-acting, intermediate-acting, mixed-acting and long-acting insulin. The grouping indicates how fast the insulin acts or how long the effect lasts.

Which insulin is best for you?

The choice of insulin depends on many factors that your doctor will help you decide.

Insulin Glulisine

Glulisine is used to treat adults with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The treatment is not recommended for children above 4 years.

Brand names: Apidra, Apidra Solostar

How it works: Insulin Glulisine works by lowering the glucose levels in the blood. It takes effect in the first 15 minutes after injection then peaks in about 1 hour. It is fast-acting insulin to improve your sugar levels. Don’t use Glulisine insulin if you have episodes of low blood sugar.

Possible side effects:

  • Injection site reactions such as changes in fat tissue
  • Low blood potassium
  • Allergy to insulin, for example a rash or itching
  • Sweating
  • Blurred vision
  • Fast heartbeat

Insulin Detemir

How it works: Insulin Detemir is long-acting. It replaces the insulin produced by your body by moving the glucose from your blood to the other body tissues where it is used to provide energy. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it stops your liver from producing more sugar. It starts working several hours after injection. It is used in controlling high blood sugar in adults and children with diabetes mellitus. Inject Insulin Detemir subcutaneously once a day with your evening meal or at bedtime and before breakfast. Ensure you inject the insulin at the same time every day. Don’t dilute or mix it with other insulin products. Please talk to your diabetes doctor before taking prescriptions or switching brands without an expert’s opinion.

Brand names: Levemir

Possible side effects:

  • Where detemir insulin is injected you may experience itching, swelling, or redness
  • Swelling in your hands or feet
  • Low potassium  - accompanied by extreme thirst, leg discomfort, muscle weakness, confusion and uneven heart rate

Insulin Aspart

Brand names: NovoLOG PenFill, Novolog, Novolog FlexPen,

How it works: Insulin Aspart is fast-acting and quickly absorbs into your bloodstream. It is also known as analog insulin because it is a man-made version of insulin. Insulin Aspart mimics the normal pattern of how your body responds to increasing blood sugar after having a meal. Usually, a person without diabetes has their pancreas releasing short bursts so that it can handle the increasing blood sugar from each meal you take. The type of insulin assists in controlling your blood sugar between meals and during your sleep.

Common Insulin Aspart side effects may include:

  • Low blood sugar
  • Itching and a mild skin rash
  • Skin thickens or hollows where you injected the Aspart.

Insulin Lispro

It is fast-acting insulin used to lower blood glucose levels in humans.

Brand names: Humalog

How it works: Insulin Lispro is mealtime insulin taken before or after meals. Look at it this way. When you eat, your blood sugar spikes. The fast-acting insulin works towards managing the spikes so that your sugar level is kept in balance. To be precise, diabetes patients should take it within 15 minutes before or after the meals. However, you need to take long-acting insulin at night or between your meals.

Side effects: Low blood sugar level is the most common effect. It may be accompanied by nausea, confusion, fast heartbeat, sweating, having trouble concentrating, blurred vision and weakness. Consult your doctor if you experience the low blood sugar symptoms before it's too late.

Insulin Glargine

Insulin Glargine is a synthetic hormone used to treat both type 1 and 2 diabetes.

Brand names: Basaglar, Lantus, Toujeo

How it works: You have to administer Insulin Glargine subcutaneously, meaning under the skin, once a day at the same time each day. Dosages are determined by a person’s desired blood glucose levels. Before taking the drug, understand that it interacts with reserpine, albuterol, clonidine, or beta-blockers. 

Side effects: The most common effect of Insulin Glargineis low blood sugar. Symptoms are:

  • Hunger
  • Irritability
  • Headache
  • seizure
  • Having trouble concentrating
  • Rapid breathing

Reviews

After sourcing the internet, you would see that some insulin brands are so well-liked. Many believe the brand may be able to control their sugar. Reactions from a number of reviews online favor some brands of insulin. While everyone is not convinced, it is better taking one brand of insulin but there seems to be a consensus about insurance issues.

  • Marlene has been using Humalog in her insulin pump for the past 16 years until her insurance wouldn't cover it. She had to switch to Apidra, and it doesn't work for her. She has been getting symptoms of lows (a headache, nausea, fast heartbeat) with highs. She has to use much more of it than Humalog, and its reaction is irregular.
  • Leaky says he took Apidra for 1 month. His glucose readings were very high. He has since changed to Novolog even though it does not start working for 45-60 minutes after taking it. It starts lowering around the 2-hour mark, then works for 4 hours.
  • Mary says her 3-year-old son was taking Novolog for the longest time and had no issues with it until her insurance wouldn't cover it anymore. She had to try Apidra before she could learn about the Humalog pen so her insurance would approve it. Apidra failed to work. In fact, the baby's sugar went up.
  • Jerry says he recently switched to Apidra (6 weeks) and the results have been amazing. This insulin works just great for him. It seems to be more effective and he plans on using it everlastingly.

Closing thoughts

Your body may not become collected after taking insulin of any type. Get expert advice from a doctor before using a diabetic medication. Read labels properly and adhere to your medication. Look out for allergic symptoms to the insulin you take, as some reactions could be fatal. People with diabetes may develop life-threatening complications such as stroke, kidney problems, and nerve damage. Make serious lifestyle changes. Quit smoking. Work on your diet and exercise to decrease your chances of suffering diabetes-related complications.