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Types of Insulin for Diabetes Treatment

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Insulin Dosing Schedule for Diabetes

Follow your health care provider's guidelines on when to take your insulin for your diabetes. The time span between your insulin shot and meals may vary depending on the type of insulin you are taking.

In general, however, you should coordinate your insulin injection with when you want to eat. From the chart above, the "onset" column provides useful information. Again, the "onset" refers to when the insulin will begin to work in your body. You want the insulin to begin working in your body at the same time your food is being absorbed. This timing will help avoid low blood sugar levels.

  • Rapid acting insulins. If you take Novolog or another rapid-acting injectable insulin, you should self inject about 15 minutes before mealtime.
  • Short-acting insulins. Such as regular insulin, should be taken 30 to 60 minutes before a meal. Intermediate-acting insulins should be taken up to 1 hour prior to a meal.
  • Pre-mixed insulins. Depending on the product used, premixed solutions should be taken 10 minutes or 30 to 45 minutes before mealtime.

Exceptions to Insulin Dosing and Timing

Injections of long-acting insulins are not "timed" to mealtime because of their long duration of action. Levemir is taken once or twice a day irrespective of mealtime. Lantus is only administered once a day (and should be administered at the same time each day). Keep in mind that these long-acting insulins may need to be given with shorter-acting insulin products --depending on your individual situation -- that will likely need to be "timed" with mealtime. Some people with type 2 diabetes may be given long-acting insulin to be used in combination with an oral drug.

Finally, the rapid-acting products can also be taken immediately after a meal (rather than 15 minutes before mealtime). Some products can also be administered 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 contact your doctor.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Michael Dansinger, MD on February 12, 2015
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If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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