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Time-action of different insulins


Insulins

Starts working

Peaks

Stops working

Rapid-acting:

Humalog® (lispro)

NovoLog® (aspart)

Apidra® (glulisine)



5 to 15 minutes



1 to 2 hours



2 to 4 hours

Short-acting:

Regular (R)



30 to 45 minutes



3 hours



4 to 8 hours

Intermediate-acting:

NPH (N)



2 to 4 hours



4 to 8 hours



10 to 16 hours

Pre-mix*:

Intermediate-acting/rapid acting

NPH and regular insulin



5 to 15 minutes











30 to 45 minutes



1 to 2 hours/ some increase at 4 to 8 hours










2 to 3 hours/

4 to 8 hours



10 to 16 hours












10 to 16 hours

Basal**:

Lantus® (glargine)

Levemir® (detemir)



2 hours



No peak



24 hours

*The long-acting insulin may work the best between four and eight hours.

**Lantus and Levemir cannot be mixed with any other insulin.


How to help insulin work best

Tip

The insulin you inject only lowers your blood glucose. It does not cross the placenta to your baby.

  • Take your insulin at the same time each day as directed.
  • Take your insulin every day, even if you feel sick. If you cannot eat normally because you are sick, see Sick day tips when taking insulin.
  • Don't change your meal plan, exercise, prescribed medications or insulin routines without talking to your health care provider.

Pen devices

Most insulins are available in a pre-filled pen you throw away after use. See the product insert for specific use guidelines.


 

Source: Allina Patient Education, Gestational Diabetes: When You Have Diabetes During Pregnancy, third edition, ISBN 1-931876-21-6

First published: 11/27/2006
Last updated: 04/01/2010

Reviewed by: Allina Patient Education experts