Intermediate-Acting Insulin

What is intermediate-acting insulin?

Intermediate-acting insulin treatments are products with human insulin complexed with a substance to delay its absorption and prolong its action. It starts working within 1-2 hours and reaches its highest level in the blood around 4-12 hours after its used and stays effective for about 12-18 hours. These times can vary among patients. It is often used to help control blood sugar between meals. Insulin is produced by the pancreas and it helps manage glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream by stimulating the cells to absorb glucose, which is needed by the cells for energy. Insulin also keeps the liver from producing more glucose. In type 2 diabetes, the body can lose the ability to produce insulin and if insulin is produced, the body isn’t able to use it properly (insulin resistance). Many kinds of insulin treatments, including intermediate-acting insulin, enable the body to get the insulin that is needed for glycemic control.

Some of the intermediate-acting insulins available in the US include:

What is Humulin N (insulin neutral protamine hagedorn (NPH))?

Humulin N is an intermediate-acting insulin that is used to improve blood sugar control in adults with type 2 diabetes. It can help keep your blood sugar levels within a normal range by moving glucose from the bloodstream into the cells, and it also prevents the liver from producing more glucose.

Humulin N is available in pre-filled pens, one of which is called Humulin N Kwikpen and vials, each containing a 100 units/ml (U-100) of insulin. Once the pen is in use, it is good for 14 days and should not be refrigerated but stored at room temperature (below 86°F). The vial is good for 31 days after first use, and can be stored in the refrigerator or at room temperature. Humulin N is injected under the skin (subcutaneously) in the abdomen, thigh, upper arm or buttocks. Injection sites should be rotated within the same region from one injection to the next to reduce the risk of lipodystrophy, an abnormal accumulation of fatty tissue under the skin at the site where insulin is injected.

Some of the most commonly reported Humulin N side effects are: hypoglycemia, reaction at site of injection, swelling and weight gain. Some side effects, like anaphylaxis, can be severe and even life threatening. Humulin N should not be taken if suffering from hypoglycemia or if allergic to any of the ingredients. Always consult your healthcare provider on the proper use of Humulin N before starting treatment and check on potential drug interactions. Let your healthcare provider know if you experience side effects after taking Humulin N or any other medications for type 2 diabetes.

What is Novolin N (insulin neutral protamine Hagedorn (NPH))?

Novolin N (recombinant DNA origin) NPH is an intermediate-acting insulin that is used to improve blood sugar control in adults with type 2 diabetes. It can help keep your blood sugar levels within a normal range by moving glucose from the bloodstream into the cells, and it prevents the liver from producing more glucose.

Novolin N is available in a vial containing a 100 units/ml (U-100) of insulin to be administered with a syringe. The vial is good for 42 days after first use, and should be stored at room temperature. Novolin N is injected under the skin (subcutaneously) in the abdomen, thigh, upper arm or buttocks. Injection sites should be rotated within the same region from one injection to the next to reduce the risk of lipodystrophy, an abnormal accumulation of fatty tissue under the skin at the site where insulin is injected.

Some of the most commonly reported Novolin N side effects are: hypoglycemia, reaction at site of injection, swelling and weight gain. Some side effects, like anaphylaxis, can be severe and even life threatening, including anaphylaxis. Novolin N should not be taken if suffering from hypoglycemia and if allergic to any of the ingredients. Always consult your healthcare provider on the proper use of Novolin N before starting treatment and check on potential drug interactions. Let your healthcare provider know if you experience side effects after taking Novolin N or any other medications for type 2 diabetes.

Written by: Amna Rizvi | Last reviewed: April 2017
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