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Rapid-acting insulins are a form of insulin that is used to control blood sugar levels in diabetics. They are designed to function fast after injection and have a relatively brief duration of action, lowering blood sugar levels shortly after a meal. To simulate the body’s natural insulin response to food, rapid-acting insulins are often taken soon before or right after eating. Your blood sugar level drops when you inject insulin into your body. Insulin functions as a key, unlocking the doors of your body’s cells. Sugar is able to flow from the blood into the cells after the cell doors are opened.
Sugar, once inside the cells, offers energy to the body. Rapid-acting insulins are meant to be absorbed by the body more quickly, lowering blood sugar levels after meals. Rapid-acting insulins, also known as fast-acting insulin, mealtime insulin, or bolus insulin, may be part of your treatment plan if you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes.Rapid-acting insulin is only accessible via prescription. It is available in the following forms:
- pre-filled pens
- cartridges for use in a reusable insulin pen
- cartridges for use in an insulin pump a solution contained in a vial (small bottle) for injection or use in a pump
Comparing Insulin Types
Fast-acting insulin (also known as rapid-acting insulin) is quickly absorbed and begins functioning about 15 minutes after injection to reduce blood sugar levels after meals. Humalog is a kind of insulin that works quickly. Humalog is typically used with longer-acting insulin in persons with type 1 diabetes (unless when using an external insulin pump).
Short-acting insulin can provide insulin requirements for meals consumed within 30 minutes of injection. Mealtime insulin is also known as short-acting insulin.
Intermediate-acting insulin helps meet your insulin requirements between meals and at night. After injection, it usually takes 2-4 hours for this insulin to start acting.
Longer-acting insulin, also known as basal insulin, regulates blood sugar levels at night and between meals. Humalog works in tandem with longer-acting insulin to help keep your blood sugar stable throughout the day.
What is the mechanism of action of rapid-acting insulin?
Rapid-acting insulin begins to operate in 10 to 20 minutes and can last up to 5 hours. It is normally taken 15 minutes before a meal, although it can be taken up to 10 minutes after.
The amount of rapid-acting insulin to take will be determined by your doctor or diabetic nurse. Depending on the number of carbohydrates in your meal (carb counting), you may need to change your dose. Rapid-acting insulins influence blood glucose levels by facilitating glucose absorption and use by cells throughout the body. The following is how they act to reduce blood glucose levels:
- When a diabetic injects rapid-acting insulin, it enters the bloodstream and travels to cells throughout the body. Insulin functions as a signaling molecule, instructing cells, particularly muscle and fat cells, to open up special channels known as glucose transporters. These transporters allow glucose from the circulation to enter the cells.
- Liver Activity:
- In addition to boosting glucose absorption into cells, insulin suppresses glucose synthesis in the liver. The liver can release glucose into the bloodstream, primarily in reaction to low blood sugar signals. Insulin inhibits hepatic glucose synthesis, hence lowering blood sugar levels.
- Insulin also suppresses gluconeogenesis, a process by which the liver generates glucose from non-carbohydrate sources such as amino acids and glycerol. Insulin helps to prevent the liver from releasing extra glucose into the bloodstream by slowing this process.
- Insulin promotes the storage of excess glucose in the liver and muscles as glycogen. Glycogen is a type of glucose that can be quickly turned back into glucose when the body requires it. This aids in blood sugar regulation by holding extra glucose during periods of high intake (such as after a meal) and releasing it when blood sugar levels fall between meals.
When should I take rapid-acting insulin?
Individuals with diabetes must carefully time their rapid-acting insulin injections with their meals to ensure that the peak action of the insulin coincides with the post-meal spike in blood sugar. Individual factors such as the type and amount of food consumed, current blood sugar levels, and insulin sensitivity may necessitate adjustments to insulin dosage and timing. This personalized strategy aids in the maintenance of stable blood sugar control and the prevention of both hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
Rapid-acting insulins have a brief period of action, often lasting 3 to 5 hours. This indicates that their blood sugar-lowering effects are transient, and they do not work for an extended period of time. Diabetes patients frequently use rapid-acting insulins soon before or right after a meal to guarantee that the peak activity of the insulin coincides with the rise in blood sugar that happens after eating. They can better control their blood sugar levels and avoid post-meal hyperglycemia by doing so.