November 5, 2013

Diabetes Medications, Insulin

The medically correct terms listed here are from many sources and the most often used. I have added other terms I have been taught or that I have learned over the years.
  • Onset refers to when the insulin starts to work. I was taught Begins or Activates.
  • Peak refers to when the insulin works hardest. I was taught Effective Period and Period of Maximum Effectiveness.
  • Duration refers to how long the insulin works. I was taught Length of Usefulness.
  • Official sources list nothing about when insulin ends and I was taught End.
Next, we need to consider the types of insulin:
  • Rapid-acting - I learned fast-acting insulin.
  • Short-acting - This was never explained to me and I lumped it with fast-acting,
  • Intermediate-acting - I learned this as 12-hour insulin.
  • Long-acting - I learned this as 24-hour insulin.
  • Pre-mixed - I learned was mixed insulin.
Now that you have an idea of the different terms used, understand that this applies to the average person with diabetes. All the directions and times used are for the average person. I take Lantus, which is a 24-hour insulin. I cannot count on this as through experience and my body chemistry, I have learned that I have an 18 to 20 hour effective period of insulin use. Others have no problem of Lantus lasting for 22 to 24 hours. I believe your own body chemistry has some effect on the effective period insulin will last.

For Novolog, the average times are onset of 15 minutes; peak 30 to 90 minutes, and duration of 3 to 5 hours. For me the duration is about 3.5 hours and I have no further benefit. Again your body chemistry may allow for different times. I have a friend that has to be ready to eat very quickly after injecting insulin because the onset for him is about 10 minutes and peak is about 20 to 50 minutes and duration is only 2.75 hours. Unusual, yes, but this is just his body chemistry in action.

Insulin acronyms:

L: Lente. An insulin product. It has an onset of action 2-4 hours after injection, a peak activity 6-12 hours after injection, and a duration of action of 18 to 26 hours. Lente insulins are of human make and have been discontinued in the USA, but are legal to import for people allergic to analogue insulins.

NPH: Neutral Protamine Hagedorn It has an onset of action starting about 2 hours following injection. It has a peak effect 4-12 hours after injection, and a duration of action of 18-26 hours. A nickname has been attached to this insulin and it is “not particularly helpful.”

R: Regular. An insulin that has an onset of action within 30 minutes of injection, reaches a peak effect at 1-3 hours, and has effects that last 6-8 hours

Please refer to these charts for insulin. Chart 1 (most complete), Chart 2, and Chart 3. There are other charts and you may wish to bookmark the chart that gives you the information you desire.

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