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Health Tip: Understanding Various Types of Insulin

How they differ

(HealthDay News) -- If you or a loved one has diabetes, you know that insulin is a lifeline to better health. But not all types of insulin are the same.

The American Diabetes Association offers this information about insulin's different forms:

  • "Rapid-acting" insulin, often called Humalog or lispro, begins to work right away after injection and is most effective after about an hour. It's usually taken just before mealtime.
  • "Regular," or short-acting insulin, may be taken 30 minutes to 45 minutes before meals, but it takes longer to work, and keeps working longer.
  • "Intermediate-acting" insulin, often called NPH or Lente, is combined with another substance that helps it work more slowly. This type of insulin can last as long as 18 hours.
  • "Long-acting" insulin, dubbed Ultralente, is commonly taken early in the morning or at bedtime, and can last for up to 20 hours.
  • "Very long-acting insulin," or glargine, begins working about an hour after it's injected and can remain consistently effective for about 24 hours.
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