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Information About Humulin Medications

What is Humulin insulin?

Humulin is the brand name of a variety of insulin products, including Humulin R which is an insulin product very similar to naturally occurring human insulin, Humulin N, or insulin isophane (NPH) which is an intermediate-acting insulin product, and Humulin 30/70 which is a fixed mixture of Humulin-R and Humulin-N.

There are two main types of insulin analogs. Background, or basal, insulin gives you long-term insulin coverage lasting up to 24 hours, and mealtime, or bolus, insulin which is fast-acting to give you the insulin you need just prior to meals.

Humulin R is mealtime insulin which contains what is called “regular” or neutral insulin, which is short-acting. Due to its rapid onset, it gives you coverage for your blood sugar level control needs for meals eaten within 30 minutes. Humulin N is background insulin and contains insulin isophane which has an intermediate duration of action, which is longer lasting than regular or rapid-acting insulin, but shorter than the long-acting insulins. Humulin 30/70 consists of both types, 30% regular insulin, and 70% insulin isophane.

What is it used for?

Humulin R is approved for the treatment of high blood sugar levels, together with a healthy diet and regular exercise, in adults and children with type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Regular insulin, the insulin in Humulin-R, is also the treatment of choice for two of the main diabetic emergencies, hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state, which is the severe dehydration resulting from high blood sugar, and diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), which is the presence of increased ketones in the urine or blood. Both Humulin N and Humulin 30/70 are approved for the treatment of diabetes by controlling high blood sugar.

How does Humulin work?

Diabetes is categorized into two main types. Type 1 diabetes arises when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, and type 2 diabetes which is characterized by the cells of the body not responding adequately to the insulin that is made. Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that controls your blood sugar levels and regulates the breakdown of food. It promotes the absorption of sugar out of the blood into fat, skeletal muscle, and liver cells.

All the Humulin products contain insulin analogs which are very similar to naturally occurring human insulin. Humulin-R, or Regular insulin is a short-acting insulin product which starts to work within 30 minutes and is active about five to eight hours. Humulin N, or NPH insulin is intermediate-acting and has small proteins called protamines added to help slow down its onset and increase the duration of insulin action. Humulin N starts to work within 90 minutes hours and lasts about 24 hours.