Insulin: What Are the Different Types?

October 24, 2020

Insulin is used for type 1 diabetes (DM Type 1), in which the pancreas does not make enough insulin, and in some cases of type 2 diabetes, usually along with oral medication. There are four basic types of insulin, classified by onset and duration of action:

Rapid-acting insulin begins to work in 5 to 10 minutes and peaks in 30 to 90 minutes, lasts 3 to 5 hours

  • Lispro (humalog)
  • NovoLog (aspart)
  • Aspart (NovoRapid)
  • Apidra (glulisine)

Regular/short-acting insulin begins to work in 30 to 60 minutes and peaks in 2 to 5 hours, lasts up to 12 hours

  • Humulin R (human insulin R)
  • Novolin R (insulin R)

Intermediate-acting begins to work in 1 to 2 hours and peaks in 4 to 12 hours, lasts up to 24 hours

  • Humulin N (human insulin NPH)
  • Novolin N (NPH insulin)

Long-acting starts to work in 1 to 2 hours and does not peak, lasts up to 24 hours

  • Levemir (detemir)
  • Lantus (glargine)

Insulin is injected subcutaneously, or just below the skin. It may be injected into the abdomen, arms, or legs, rotating sites to keep from damaging tissue in any one site. Insulin should be kept refrigerated unless otherwise directed.


Whether you are already on insulin and need a refill or you need help in controlling your blood sugar better QuickMD can help. Our doctors can prescribe you insulin online–from the convenience of your home. 

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