Long-lasting insulin, or long-acting insulin, is a type of treatment medication used by diabetics to compensate for the lack of insulin released by their pancreases. This particular type of the medication allows individuals with diabetes to receive their necessary insulin all day long, usually without requiring another dose.
Long-lasting Insulin: How Does It Work?
Long-acting insulin works to keep a person’s blood sugar at a normal amount throughout the entire day. This is usually because the pancreas itself does not release enough insulin––or any at all.
Most individuals need insulin between meals and throughout the day to maintain a healthy amount of blood sugar. However, this can require a large number of injections, and long-lasting insulin minimizes the number of injections the individual will need to just one per day.
Usually, diabetics have to inject themselves or have someone else inject them with this long-acting medication. This can be done with a pen device or a needle. It is important to inject the insulin around the same time every day to avoid lags in the medication or stacking, which is when the doses begin to overlap. People taking insulin every day for their diabetes must be very careful with their use of the drug.
Types of Long-lasting Insulin
There are several different brand name drugs that contain long-acting insulin. These include
Lantus and Toujeo are both insulin glargine. This is a manmade version of insulin that is helpful for providing a patient with the insulin they need throughout the course of their day. Soliqua is a combination drug that contains insulin glargine and lixisenatide.
Levemir contains insulin detemir. Tresiba contains insulin degludec.
All of these drugs are injection versions of insulin that can be used to treat diabetes throughout the day. All of these can treat both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
Different people need different dosage amounts. Those who switch from one brand medication to another, even if they are merely switching between Lantus and Toujeo, will often need to have their dosages changed slightly in order to safely receive their necessary amount of insulin. It is important for patients to only switch their medications under a doctor’s care and to take the drug exactly at the dosage prescribed for their needs.
Alternatives to Long-lasting Insulin
Long-acting insulin injections aren’t the only option available to those with diabetes. Patients can also utilize other medications like
- Rapid-acting insulin: This medication starts working around 15 minutes after the patient receives it. It reaches its peak at about 30 to 90 minutes after it has been taken. Its effects only last for about 5 hours.
- Regular-lasting (or short-lasting) insulin: Regular-acting insulin takes 30 minutes to an hour to start working. Its peak time is about 2 to 4 hours after it is taken, and it can last for as long as 8 hours.
- Intermediate-acting insulin: This type takes about 3 hours to start working and peaks at about the 8th hour after it was taken. Its effects can usually last for as long as 16 hours.
- Premixed insulin: Premixed insulin is a combination of two types of the drug. The point is so one type will control one’s blood sugar between their meals and the other will control it when they are eating.
Some doctors will recommend that patients take a long-acting insulin medication once a day and then take another medication at mealtimes just to make sure they don’t experience a spike in their blood sugar. Still, an individual can take different medications, like the ones listed above, throughout their day without taking a long-lasting insulin drug.
The Benefits of Long-lasting Insulin
Long-lasting insulin allows diabetic individuals to be maintained throughout their day with enough insulin so that their body is healthy and they don’t experience severe spikes or dips in blood sugar. Though another medication may be needed at mealtimes, this drug is extremely effective for helping the patient maintain their equilibrium throughout their day.
Of course, it is very important for the individual to take their medication at the exact same time every day, or at least very close to it. And sometimes, as stated above, the medication is not enough on its own to fully treat an individual’s condition. However, long-acting insulin is a very helpful option to those who require treatment for type 1 or type 2 diabetes and do not wish to require multiple, daily injections with the drug.