What are the types of Insulin?

insulin pen

It is a general misconception that only people with insulin dependent diabetes need to take insulin. However, contrary to this belief, people with type 2 diabetes also need injectable insulin.

For both people with insulin dependent diabetes and type 2 diabetes, starting on an insulin regimen can be intimidating and confusing. This is because of the complexity of the dosing system, self-monitoring of blood sugar levels, and the repercussions of not taking the right dosage.

Though your diabetes doctor, or endocrinologist has given you a basic education regarding the usage of insulin, the site of injecting, and the calculation, you do need continuous assistance for insulin management, especially when it is administered to children and the elderly.

What is insulin?

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. It assists in regulating the amount of blood sugar. Insulin regulates the metabolism of carbohydrates.

When levels of blood sugar are high, pancreas secretes insulin. This insulin helps the tissues of the body along with the liver, and skeletal muscles to absorb glucose present in the blood.

Insulin is a protein that contains amino acids. In insulin dependent diabetes, the production of insulin is reduced to a large extent as the cells that produce insulin in the pancreas are destroyed due to autoimmune disease.

Functions of insulin

  • Insulin secreted in the body acts on the liver, muscles, and the adipose (fat) tissue in the body
  • Insulin reduces blood sugar levels as it promotes absorption of glucose from the blood into the tissues of the body
  • Insulin helps in the conversion of fat to triglycerides
  • In the liver, it assists in the formation of glycogen.
  • Insulin regulates the storage and production of glucose by the liver
  • Insulin assists the brain in functions of memory, cognition

Since in insulin dependent diabetes the production of natural insulin is decreased to a large extent, people have to take insulin injections in order to maintain normal blood sugar levels.

Types of insulin

Insulin taken by both people insulin dependent diabetes (type 1) and type 2 diabetes comes in the form of insulin analogs. Insulin analogs are altered forms of insulin as against the form it occurs naturally. Insulin analogs function in the same way as human insulin in order to bring down the sugar levels to normalcy.

Different insulin analogs work differently on the body. The major difference lies in the time taken for their action, duration of action, and the time taken to reach peak action. Changes in insulin analogs vary in:

  • Time taken for the insulin to act
  • Time taken to reach peak action
  • Duration of action
  • Available concentrations
  • Route of administration

Generally injected subcutaneously, the site of insulin injection is suggested by an endocrinologist or a diabetes doctor.

Insulin types include:

  • Fast-acting (rapid-acting) insulin
  • Short-acting insulin
  • Intermediate-acting insulin
  • Long-acting insulin
Insulin Type Onset time Peak Action Time Duration of action
Rapid-acting insulin 10 to 30 minutes 30 minutes to 3 hours 3 to 5 hours
Short-acting insulin 30 minutes to 1 hour 2 to 5 hours Till 12 hours
Intermediate-acting insulin 1.5 hours to 4 hours 4 to 12 hours Till 24 hours
Long-acting insulin 3 to 4 hours No well-defined peak Around 24 hours



  • Long-acting insulin is taken once or twice a day in order to control blood sugar levels. It taken in combination with rapid-acting or short-acting insulin
  • Intermediate-acting insulin is taken twice a day and is combined with rapid-acting and short-acting insulins
  • Short-acting insulin is taken half an hour before meals in order to control blood sugar levels
  • Rapid-acting insulin is taken before meals and is generally combined with long-acting insulin

The dosage of insulin is calculated after monitoring blood sugar levels using a blood glucose monitor. Known as a glucometer, this device helps you measure your blood sugar levels instantaneously.

To know more about insulin usage consult our endocrinologists and diabetes doctors.