The types of insulin include:
Your doctor will work with you to prescribe the type of insulin that’s best for you and your diabetes. Making that choice will depend on many things, including:
Afrezza, a rapid-acting inhaled insulin, is FDA-approved for use before meals for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The drug peaks in your blood in about 15-20 minutes and it clears your body in 2-3 hours. It must be used along with long-acting insulin in people with type 1 diabetes.
The chart below lists the types of injectable insulin with details about onset (the length of time before insulin reaches the bloodstream and begins to lower blood sugar), peak (the time period when it best lowers blood sugar) and duration (how long insulin continues to work). These three things may vary. The final column offers some insight into the “coverage” provided by the different insulin types in relation to mealtime.
Follow your doctor’s guidelines on when to take your insulin. The time span between your shot and meals may vary depending on the type you use.
In general, though, you should coordinate your injection with a meal. From the chart on page 1, the “onset” column shows when the insulin will begin to work in your body. You want that to happen at the same time you’re absorbing food. Good timing will help you avoid low blood sugar levels.
Long-acting insulins aren’t tied to mealtimes. You’ll take detemir (Levemir) once or twice a day no matter when you eat. And you’ll take glargine (Basaglar, Lantus, Toujeo) once a day, always at the same time. Deglutec is taken once a day, and the time of day can be flexible. But some people do have to pair a long-acting insulin with a shorter-acting type or another medication that does have to be taken at meal time.
Rapid-acting products can also be taken right after you eat, rather than 15 minutes before mealtime. You can take some of them at bedtime.
For more information about when to take insulin, read the “dosing and administration” section of the insulin product package insert that came with your insulin product, or talk with your doctor.