Type 2 Diabetes


Learn about insulin therapy from A to Z

Things to know if you take insulin

  • TIP 1
    Always be prepared to treat low blood sugar
  • TIP 2
    Rotate sites and clean before you inject
  • TIP 3
    You can get help affording insulin
Types of insulin
All types of insulin are used to mimic the insulin your body naturally produces. Different types of insulin are available based on how quickly and how long you need them to work. Which types of insulin you take will depend on factors like age, activity level, and how long your body takes to absorb insulin.

    Rapid-acting insulin is taken with meals, typically right before eating. It’s commonly used along with longer-acting insulin and usually starts working in 15 minutes. The effects of rapid-acting insulin last from 2–4 hours, though it typically peaks in your system at 1 hour.

    Short-acting insulin is taken with meals, typically 30–60 minutes before eating. It takes effect after 30 minutes and lasts 3–6 hours, peaking around 2–3 hours.

    Intermediate-acting insulin is taken once or twice a day. It covers your insulin needs for half a day or overnight. It’s commonly used with rapid- or short-acting insulin. Onset for intermediate-acting insulin is 2–4 hours, and it lasts up to 18 hours.

    Long-acting insulin is taken once a day. It can be used with rapid- or short-acting insulin if needed. It takes effect in 2 hours and can last up to 24 hours.

    Pre-mixed insulin is taken twice a day, commonly 10–30 minutes before breakfast and dinner. This type of insulin is a combination of intermediate- and short-acting insulin. It takes 5–60 minutes to take effect and lasts 10–16 hours.

Frequently Asked Questions

You can use an ice pack, ice cube, or freeze a spoon and place it on the injection site before injecting insulin. You may also ask for a numbing cream from your pharmacy.

To avoid injecting into muscle, gently pinch a 1- to 2-inch portion of skin. Insert the needle at a 90-degree angle. Push the plunger all the way down and wait for 10 seconds. With smaller needles, the pinching process may not be needed.

Blood vessels widen when you’re hot, so taking a hot bath or shower after an insulin injection isn’t a good idea. This can cause insulin to enter the bloodstream too quickly.

Insulin is absorbed more quickly and predictably in the abdomen, plus it’s easy to reach. You can also inject into the top and outer areas of your thigh, about 4 inches down from the top of your leg and 4 inches up from your knee. Another option is the fatty area on the back of your arm, between your shoulder and elbow.