What is insulin and what are the different types?


June 3rd, 2021

What is insulin and what are the different types?

1. What is insulin?

Insulin is a hormone that allows glucose to get into the body’s cells to be used for energy. The body of people with Type 1 Diabetes does not produce insulin, so they need to take insulin every day.
The overall goal of insulin treatment is to achieve the best match possible between the amounts of insulin given and the person’s individual needs for insulin throughout the day and night. In this way, blood glucose levels can be kept as close to normal as possible to help avoid both short- and long-term problems from diabetes.
The types of insulin and the amount taken each day will vary depending on the person living with Type 1 Diabetes’ treatment. Some plans include two injections each day, while others involve three or more to keep blood glucose levels under control.

2. What are the different types of insulin?

Short acting
Short-acting insulin helps control blood glucose spikes that happen when eating. It works quickly, but only for a short time. The exact time for short-acting insulin injection depends on the meal time. It is normally taken anytime between 30 minutes or just before eating, depending on the type of insulin being used.

Long acting
Long-acting insulin works slowly and lasts for almost a full day. It regulates blood glucose levels between meals, keeping blood glucose levels stable throughout the day and night. It is often taken at bedtime.

Exact injection time will depend on the type of insulin being use. Please speak to a doctor or nurse to work out the best times and doses for the person concerned. As children grow and develop, so will their insulin requirements. The solution is to talk regularly to your child about his /her condition and to your doctor or nurse.

3. The effects of insulin.

You can’t “turn off” insulin once it’s been injected, it’s going to work no matter what, so it’s important to time and match the amounts of insulin given with the person’s needs throughout the day and night.

Good control is a result of following a well-organized daily program. Help the person with diabetes to stick to a meal plan every day and to do a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity that increases their heart rate. If regular exercise is carried out every day it will help with control and make it easier for them to achieve good sugar control.

Despite the best efforts of parents, caregivers, health care providers, and kids with diabetes themselves, blood glucose levels cannot be perfectly controlled. In all those with Type 1 Diabetes, children or adults, there will be times when the amount of insulin taken is too much or too little for the body’s needs and the blood glucose level will become too high or too low.

One of the most common problems in people who take insulin is low blood glucose, or hypoglycaemia. While hypoglycaemia can happen at any time in people who take insulin, it’s more likely to happen under certain conditions — for example, if the person eats less or exercises more than usual.

In some people with diabetes, repeated insulin injections can cause a thickening or lumpiness of the fatty tissue beneath the skin, called lipodystrophy (or lipohypertrophy). This is more likely if injections are given in the same area again and again rather than in different injection sites as recommended. In some cases, insulin injected in areas of skin with lipodystrophy may not be absorbed into the bloodstream, as it should. This can make the insulin dose take longer than usual to work.


HelloType1 content is based on published, internationally recognised guidelines and then reviewed by local experts to ensure it fits local context. The translation is based on simplified English language to ensure it conveys the safest and clearest possible message in regional languages. Basic insulin and blood glucose testing access is still an issue in the South-East Asia region and our chief aim is to address this. HelloType1 content is not intended to replace the advice of individual healthcare professionals but as a collaborative tool to help them improve the outcomes of disadvantaged people with Type 1 Diabetes in the region.

HelloType1 content is curated for the topics using information only taken from accredited sources such as the International Diabetes Foundation (IDF) and the International Society for Paediatric and Adolescent Diabetes (ISPAD).

This content is then reviewed and adapted by a panel consisting of healthcare experts (e.g. endocrinologist, nutritionist, diabetes nurse, psychologist) and members of the South-East Asia T1D communities, helping ensure the information is appropriate in a local context.

Writers of HelloType1 content:
Anne-Charlotte Ficheroulle, Pharmacist, Digital Innovation Manager at A4D
Charlotte O’Brian Gore, Research assistant ImmunoEngineering, King’s College. UK

Content Reviewers – healthcare professionals:
Dr. May Ng, Paediatric Endocrinologist, Chief Medical Advisor A4D, UK
Dr. Yeow Toh Peng, Endocrinologist, Malaysia
Dr Jaturat Petchkul, Paediatric Endocrinologist, Thailand
Dianna Culbertson, Physician Assistant T1D care, US
Prof Dr Malene Iv, Endocrinologist, Kantha Bopha Hospital, Cambodia
Steffen Tange, Consultant Psychology, Denmark
Soe Nyi Nyi, Nutritionist, Myanmar
Lucas Lim, Dietician, Malaysia

Content Reviewers – people with Type 1 Diabetes:
Jerry Gore, Co-Founder A4D, Mountaineer, UK
Diana Maynard, T1D advocate, UK
Emelyne Carmen Ho, College Student, Malaysia
Molly Seal, College Student, UK

Content Reviewers – parents with T1D child:
Samantha Seal, Teacher, Thailand
Kim Than, Deputy Country Director – Plan International, Cambodia


Download: “Insulin and Type 1 Diabetes”





Read more

Guideline for Insulin Use

Guideline for Insulin Use

Why is it important to monitor blood glucose levels?

Why is it important to monitor blood glucose levels?


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What is insulin?


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