Meal Time Insulin – Bolus:

  • Humulin® R, Novolin® R, ReliOn R – Human regular insulin     – Once open can be used for 42 days
  • Humalog - lispro    -  Once open can be used for 28 days
  • Novolog - aspart     -  Once open can be used for 28 days
  • Apidra - glulisine   -   Once open can be used for 28 days

Timing of these insulins are usually before meals. Regular (R) insulin is the slowest onset in this group. Regular insulin is taken 20-30 min before meals. The other 3 humalog, novolog, and apidra are all taken within 5-15 minutes before the meal. This group of insulins are ONLY taken with food.

Regular insulin often peaks at 3-4 hours after you inject and can last up to 6 hours. Humalog, novolog, apidra peak in about 90 minutes and last only about 3 hours.

Main side effect: hypoglycemia

Storage: un-open insulin vials/pens should be refrigerated

Open vials: can be kept out of the refrigerator for approximately 28 days for Lantus, Novolog, Humalog and Apidra. Levemir, Regular and NPH can be used up to 42 days once open.

Insulin should NOT be exposed to temperatures above 87 degrees. Insulin should also be protected from cold, freezing and bright lights. All can affect the strength and action of insulin.


  • NPH - neutral protamine Hagedorn

NPH is the only remaining cloudy insulin in use today. The NPH can be mixed with any of the fast/rapid acting insulins. NPH often starts to work in about 90 minutes and is strongest or peaks at 4-10 hours and can last up to 18 to 24 hours.

NPH must be gently rolled before each use. NEVER shake insulin.

Storage: same as fast/rapid acting insulin

Main Side Effect: low blood sugar

Long acting – Basal insulin:

  • Lantus - glargine
  • Levemir - detemir

Both are considered 24 hour insulins. Both should always be clear just like water. There should NEVER be any flakes, clumps or cloudiness with these insulins. Often given at bedtime although Lantus and Levemir may be given in the morning.

  • NEVER MIX with any other insulins.
  • Lantus once open can be used up to 28 days
  • Levemir once open can be used up to 42 days

Main side effects: low blood sugar – the risk is less than meal time insulin

Storage: unopened insulin should be refrigerated.

Open insulin can be kept out of the refrigerator as long as the insulin is stored properly.

  • Avoid bright light
  • Heat
  • Cold
  • Freezing

Pre-mixed insulin:

  • 70/30 NPH/Regular insulin mix – insulin isophane and insulin regular
  • 70/30 Humalog/Novolog mix – insulin lispro and insulin lispro protamine and insulin aspart protamine and insulin aspart rdna origin
  • 75/25 Humalog mix – insulin lispro and insulin lispro protamine

Any pre-mixed insulin must be gently rolled before each use. NEVER shake insulin. The pre-mixed insulin is taken before meals from 1-3 times a day depending on your treatment plan.

The 25-30% part of the insulin is to cover the food you are eating, while the 70% is your back ground or basal insulin that works to control sugars between meals and during the night.

Mixed insulins do not work for all people.  If your routine and food intake is stable from day-to-day the pre-mixed may be an option.



Insulin vials

Insulin vials

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