Those with Type 1 diabetes often have to take a long-acting form of synthetic insulin to manage their condition. Even if they have been successfully controlling their blood sugar levels, sometimes doctors or consultants will prescribe an additional short-acting insulin to be added into the treatment regime.

So what exactly is short-acting insulin and what is its purpose? In most cases, it’s prescribed to help manage any blood sugar spikes that happen naturally after you eat a meal. While non-diabetics can usually manage these spikes on their own, diabetics often need extra help in managing the spikes.

If your GP or specialist has given you a prescription for a short-acting insulin, it’s not because you aren’t able to manage your diabetes on your own or you’ve been doing something wrong. It’s being prescribed because of a natural process that happens to your body whenever you have a meal.

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes is a serious, chronic condition where your blood sugar levels are too high. Sugar, also known as glucose, is the main source of energy for much of the cells in your tissues and muscles. Glucose is usually obtained naturally either through diet or from the liver. The glucose is then absorbed into the bloodstream before a hormone called insulin helps it enter the cells.  

When a person has Type 1 Diabetes, their pancreas is not making enough insulin or is making insulin that isn’t functioning as it should. This prevents glucose from being transferred to your cells and causes sugar to build up in the bloodstream. If these blood sugar levels aren’t lowered, life-threatening complications can occur.

Type 1 Diabetes Complications:

  • Nerve damage
  • Kidney Damage
  • Heart disease
  • Eye damage and vision loss
  • Blood vessel disease
  • Foot damage that can lead to amputation
  • Skin infections
  • Oral infections

Women with uncontrolled blood sugar levels who are pregnant face additional risks. High blood sugar lelels can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, preeclampsia, and birth deects. The mother may develop complications like diabetic ketoacidosis and diabetic neuropathy. If you are pregnant and have diabetes, it is very important to keep your blood glucose levels under control to keep both you and your baby safe.

Most diabetics have to use a medication called insulin to manage their blood sugar levels. Medical insulin is a lab grown, synthetic version of the natural human hormone.

Types of Insulin

  • Fast-acting insulin: Also known as rapid-acting, this type of insulin works quickly to lower blood sugar levels. It should start working within 20 minutes of injection and peaks at 3-5 hours. Fast-acting insulin is usually taken before a meal to reduce the chance of a blood sugar spike. You’ll need to eat right after taking it. Type 1 diabetics typically use this type of insulin with a longer-acting insulin.
  • Short-acting insulin: Short-acting insulin, often known as meal-time insulin, starts lowering blood glucose levels within 30 minutes of administration so it should be taken 30 minutes before eating. Its maximum effect is 2-5 hours after injection and lasts 6-8 hours.
  • Intermediate-acting insulin: Intermediate-acting insulins are used to manage blood sugar between meals and at night. They start working 60-90 minutes after injection, peak at 4-12 hours, and last for 16-24 hours.
  • Longer-acting insulin: Longer-acting insulin or basal insulin manages blood sugar levels at night and between meals. They take the longest to kick in, 2-4 hours, but can control blood glucose levels for up to an entire day.

Novorapid Insulin

NovoRapid Insulin can be used by adults, adolescents, and children over 1 years of age to reduce high blood sugar levels. It’s a modern, fast-acting insulin analog that will start lowering blood sugar levels within 10-20 minutes of being taken. NovoRapid is a short-acting insulin that will last 3-5 hours so it is usually used in conjunction with long-acting insulin.

It should be injected under the skin and never directly into a vein or muscle. NovoRapid’s insulin is pre-filled within a colour-coded FlexPen that is easy to manage and use. Its dose-setting mechanism ensures you can easily get the right dosage.

Humalog Insulin

Humalog is a fast-acting insulin that is absorbed quickly by the body and should start working in 15 minutes to lower blood sugar. It’s commonly known as a ‘meal-time’ insulin, it’s used to help manage blood sugar spikes after eating. Humalog is often taken alongside longer-acting or intermediate-acting insulins and is suitable for adults and children.

Humalog comes in a disposable pre-filled KwikPen that is injected just under the skin. The KwikPen device is a compact, lightweight pen that doesn’t need to be refrigerated after its first use. You can easily carry it with you when you’re out and about to maintain your blood sugar levels. Plus, it’s already pre-mixed so you won’t need to mix it yourself. Be sure to only use it if the liquid appears transparent, colourless, and has no solid particles within it. 

Your doctor or pharmacist will advise you on your recommended dosage. 

Lantus Insulin

Lantus insulin is a long-acting insulin that is most commonly prescribed to people with type 1 diabetes. Unlike shorter acting types of insulin, even though it takes several hours to work, Lantus stays consistent in your system up to 24 hours without any peaks. It can be used by adults, adolescents, and children over the age of 6.

Lantus is injected under the skin, typically once per day at the same time each day. Your doctor will advise what your dose should be and the time of day you should inject it. You may be prescribed shorter acting insulin to take alongside Lantus.

Where Can I Buy Insulin Online in the UK?

If you have diabetes and need to take insulin, you can buy insulin online in the UK through Pharmacy Planet. We are a leading online pharmacy providing the UK with their medications at affordable prices with fast delivery.