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There are different types of insulin that vary in how quickly they lower blood glucose levels. Some work very quickly and are taken with meals. Others are long-acting and are used just once or twice a day.

Rapid Acting

Insulin glulisine (Apidra), insulin lispro (Humalog), insulin aspart (NovoLog)
Onset: about 15 minutes
Peak: about 1or 2 hours after injection
Duration: last between 2-4 hours

Regular or Short-Acting

Regular (Humulin R and Novolin R)
Onset: about 30 minutes
Peak: about 2 to 3 hours after injection
Duration: last between 3-6 hours


NPH (Humulin N and Novolin N)
Onset: about 2 to 4 hours after injection
Peak: 4 to 12 hours later
Duration: it is effective for about 12 to 18 hours


Insulin detemir (Levemir), insulin glargine
Onset: between 2 and 4 hours
Peak: long acting insulin has a continuous, “peakless” action that mimics the way your body normally releases insulin
Duration: last up to 24 hours

Other Injected Medications

In addition to pills and insulin, some medications for controlling your blood glucose are injected.

GLP-1 analogues

liraglutide (Victoza)
GLP-1 analogues stimulate the release of insulin when blood glucose is high and decrease the amount of glucose produced by the liver. They also slow food’s movement through the stomach, which decreases appetite and may lead to weight loss.

What if my blood glucose stays too high?

If your blood glucose levels remain too high, your medication may need to be adjusted. Do not adjust your medication on your own. Talk to the doctor about possible changes.