Personal solutions for everyday life.

Different types of insulin are

available for people with diabetes.

If you need insulin, you and your

diabetes team will look at the

options and decide which type

fits best with your lifestyle and

blood glucose (sugar) patterns.

Types of insulin

When you talk to your diabetes team about insulin, they will explain that there are two

aspects of blood glucose control. When you have a meal, your blood glucose goes up, so

you need insulin to help your body cope with this. But there is also a background level

of blood glucose that needs to be controlled between meals. The main types of insulin

are described in the box below. They have been designed to control one or both the

meal-time and background blood glucose levels. You may have to take a combination of

insulins to give you good 24-hour control. Keep a note of the insulin you’re prescribed

and your target blood glucose levels, in the spaces provided.

Your blood glucose levels

Your fasting blood glucose should be:

1-2 hours after food, your blood glucose should be:

Main types of insulin

• Rapid-acting insulins can be injected up to 15 minutes before you eat, during your

meal, or up to 15 minutes after your meal

• Short-acting insulins are usually taken 15-30 minutes before a meal

• Medium and long-acting insulins have an effect that lasts for several hours and keep

blood glucose under control between meals

• Insulin mixtures can contain either a short or rapid acting insulin. Mixtures

containing short and longer-acting insulins are usually taken 15-30 minutes before a

meal so that the short-acting insulin can control the rise in glucose after a meal and

the longer-acting insulin can carry on working between meals. Mixtures containing

rapid and longer-acting insulins are usually taken 15 minutes before you eat, during

your meal, or up to 15 minutes after your meal.

Keep your spare insulin in a refrigerator, but don’t let it freeze.

Insulin that is in use should be kept at room temperature.

Your insulin

Your insulin is: Brand Name (1):

Brand Name (2):

Manufacturer (1):

Manufacturer (2):

Type (1):

Type (2):

You need to take it: (1):


Never stop taking your insulin without discussing it with your diabetes team

Taking your insulin

At the moment, insulin needs to be injected. It is not available in tablet form

because the stomach would digest it before it got into the bloodstream and started


Depending on the type of insulin you need and your preference, your insulin may

be available in:

• a prefilled pen device (with a needle) that is filled with insulin and discarded

when empty

• a reusable pen device (with needles) that takes replaceable cartridges when empty

• a syringe with a needle that you fill with insulin from a vial (or bottle)

• an injection device that doesn’t use needles

• pumps

Insulin pens are very convenient and popular because they are more discreet and

portable than syringes and vials. Needle-free injection devices are suited to people

who have a needle phobia.

Some people have a continuous supply of insulin delivered into their body from an

insulin pump.

Injection sites

For the best insulin absorption, you should inject into the fatty tissue just under the

skin in the areas shown in the illustration.

It’s important to use different sites in a rotation system to prevent what’s known

as lipohypertrophy. This is where an area bulges because fat has accumulated. It

happens if you overuse an injection site. If you carry on injecting into an area of

lipohypertrophy, the insulin isn’t absorbed very efficiently and your glucose control

will be affected.

Your diabetes team will teach

you more about rotating your

injections, how to use your insulin

delivery device and what to do

with the needles after using

them. Also, ask them to check

your injection sites for signs of

lipohypertrophy at your annual


Sometimes an injection site

becomes bruised or bleeds - this

happens to everyone occasionally.

Adjusting insulin

Your insulin dose will change throughout your life, depending on what you eat, how

you exercise, illness, climate, work, social activity, and your circumstances. Your

diabetes team will advise you how to prepare for these changes by adjusting your meals

or your insulin.

Sometimes your blood glucose will go high or low for no reason. If this happens, don’t

adjust your insulin. But if you’re having trouble keeping your glucose levels near to

your target, talk to your diabetes team. They will advise you how to make changes to

improve your glucose control.

If you forget to take your insulin

Your diabetes team will agree a plan with you, detailing what you should do if you

forget to take your insulin. However, if you are unsure, speak to your team.

Your diabetes team

A diabetes team is a group of healthcare professionals with specialist knowledge

and experience of supporting people with diabetes. For example, teams may

include diabetologist / endocrinologists (hospital specialists who deal with hormone

disorders such as diabetes), family doctors, specialist diabetes nurses, dieticians,

ophthalmologists (for specialist eye care) and podiatrists (for foot care).

Other information

Other leaflets in this series include

specific explanations of some of the

terms used here. Leaflets on blood

testing, hypos, travel, impact on sexual

health, driving and employment, illness,

and complications may be particularly

helpful for you. Ask your diabetes team

for the ones you want.

Further information is available from

Customer Care

Contact numbers and notes

Lilly UK Answers

Lilly House

Priestley Road


Hampshire RG24 9NL

Tel: (01256) 315000

Provided as a service for patient care

UKDBT01184 June 2012

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