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Insulin Duration of Action

Which Type of Insulin Has the Longest Duration of Action?

What is duration of action?

While each type of insulin acts differently, there are three main measurements by which every type is categorized. These measurements are the onset of action (how long it takes for the insulin to start working), the insulin peak (at which point the insulin is working at maximum capacity), and the duration of action (how long one injection will provide blood-glucose-lowering effects).

Which type of insulin has the longest duration of action?

There are four different types of insulin that have varied onsets of action, insulin peaks, and durations of action.

The different types of insulin are:

  • Rapid-acting (insulin glulisine, insulin aspart, insulin lispro)
  • Short-acting (insulin regular)
  • Intermediate-acting (insulin NPH)
  • Long-acting (insulin glargine, insulin detemir)

The types of insulin with the longest duration of action are intermediate-acting and long-lasting. Each of these types can last up to 24 hours. Some long-acting insulin may even last up to 42 hours.

Brands of intermediate-acting insulin include Humulin N and Novolin ge NPH. Brands of long-acting insulin include Basaglar, Lantus, Levemir, Toujeo, and Tresiba.

Intermediate-acting and long-acting insulin have a longer onset of action, taking effect after approximately 90 minutes. However, these formulations can be mixed with rapid or short-acting insulin to make them work more quickly. When mixed, insulin will begin working as quickly as the insulin with the fastest onset of action and last as long as the longest lasting insulin.


Disclaimer: Please note that the contents of this community article are strictly for informational purposes and should not be considered as medical advice. This article, and other community articles, are not written or reviewed for medical validity by Canadian Insulin or its staff. All views and opinions expressed by the contributing authors are not endorsed by Canadian Insulin. Always consult a medical professional for medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment.
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