Monday, October 19, 2009

A Tale of Two Insulins

Sorry about the fuzziness, but these are my two different kinds of insulin. Humalog, the one on the left is the kind I take before or after every meal. Lantus, the one on the right is what I take every night before bed. I'll explain why:


Humalog, a lispro insulin, is fast acting. It only takes about 15-30 minutes to start working. Since it is absorbed quickly, it doesn't stay in you system for very long. There are 100 units per milliliter (mL). It comes in a 10 mL vial, so each vial has 1,000 units inside.

I'm going to be throwing a lot of numbers at you here, I'm sorry (mom).

In my diet, 1 unit of insulin compenstaes for every 15 grams of carbohydrates that I consume. So, if I go to Qdoba and eat a burrito with 75g of carbohydrates in it, I should inject 5 units of insulin either right before or right after I eat. Coincidentally I have learned that 15 grams of carbs also raises my blood sugar level 15 points (mg/dL). So, my general grand equation for eating and insulin, without exercise involved is:

15g carbohydrates=50 mg/dL=1 unit Humalog

Exercise is a topic I will cover another day this week. The short of it though, is that exercise speeds up the process by whichi insulin is absorbed, so I have to be careful to inject too much insulin, running the risk of Hypoglycemia


Lantus, a glargine insulin, is a long-acting insulin. An injection may stay in the bloodstream for up to 12 hours. Since it is absrobed over a long period of time, it is easy to understand this as a regulatory injection. I take this every night 1-2 hours before bedtime. (If I just grab a banana in the morning, I do not take humalog. If I eat a full breakfast, I can take humalog then)

I injectany where from 14-16 units on Lantus every night. If my bloold sugar is 80-100 mg/dL, I take 14. If it is 100-120 mg/dL I take 15. If it is >120mg/dL, I take 16.

Here is my brief description of what happens overnight: Type 1 diabetics cannot regulate sugar levels because of the complete absence of insulin production. Every night, a person's liver is signaled by glucagon in the pancreas to release glucose (sugar) into the bloodstream. This release raises a person's blood sugar. A normally functioning person would be able to produce insulin overnight to conteract this release of sugae from the liver. Since diabetics cannot do this, the long-acting Lantus allows them to regulate their blood sugar levels overnight.

*This is one reason it is drinking can be harmful for diabetics. If the liver is too busy clearing alcohol out of the bloodstream, it does not release sugar into the bloodstream. If a diabetic takes Lantus without the liver releasing this sugar, he or she runs the risk of severe Hypoglycemia.

If any of this didn't make sense, please email me at!

Diabetes quote of the Day: "You have now been given a two-year that will be at your side for the rest of your life, and will never grow up. Take care of it." -Sharon Plummer, R.N.

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