Insulin: What to Expect

When you have diabetes, your blood sugar is too high — you may need medication to help keep it steady. Find out how insulin works and how it will help you feel better.

By Koren Wetmore |

If you or a loved one has diabetes, you’re well aware of the importance of insulin in your body.

When you eat, your body breaks down food into glucose, or sugar. The body uses it for energy. Normally, that sugar gets into your cells with the help of insulin, a hormone made by your pancreas.

When you have Type 1 diabetes, your body doesn’t make insulin. With Type 2 diabetes, your cells stop responding to insulin, even at high levels. This creates insulin resistance.

“Insulin is like the key that unlocks the doors to let glucose into your cells,” says Amy Egras, PharmD. She’s an associate professor of pharmacy practice at Thomas Jefferson University College of Pharmacy in Philadelphia. “In Type 1, you don’t have the key [insulin] to open the doors, so your blood sugar stays elevated. In Type 2, there’s something wrong with either the key [insulin] or the lock [your cells], and your blood sugar stays elevated.”

If you have Type 1 diabetes, you need insulin therapy to make up for what your body can’t produce. With Type 2 diabetes, insulin can help manage blood sugar when oral diabetes medications, such as Glucophage® (metformin), can’t do it alone.

Sometimes insulin is used to manage gestational diabetes as well. That’s diabetes that can occur during pregnancy. It usually goes away after giving birth.

Types and amounts of insulin

The 2 most common forms of insulin are long-acting and rapid-acting. Long-acting insulins help to control blood sugar throughout the day. They last up to 40 hours, depending on the insulin you’re given. These include Toujeo® (glargine), Levemir® (detemir) and Tresiba® (degludec).

Rapid-acting insulins regulate your blood sugar after you’ve eaten a meal. These might include NovoLog® (aspart), Apidra® (glulisine), Humalog® (lispro) and Humulin® or Novolin® (regular or neutral insulin).

Your dosing regimen will be tailored to your specific needs…


Published in OptumPerks Blog