Diabetes is a complex condition that requires careful dietary, physical, and medication management in order to maintain blood sugar levels within a healthy range to prevent short and long-term complications. One essential component of diabetes management is often basal insulin, which provides a steady release of insulin to keep blood sugar stable throughout the day and night. Some examples of long-acting insulins include: Lantus (insulin glargine), Levemir, (insulin detemir), Toujeo (high-concentration insulin glargine), Tresiba (insulin degludec). In this blog post, we will explore long-acting basal insulin, how it works, its benefits, and the role it plays in diabetes care.
See our blog about Hypoglycemia and the 15/15 Rule
Understanding Basal Insulin:
Basal insulin, also called long-acting insulin, is often a fundamental component of diabetes therapy. It mimics the natural insulin that would be released by a healthy pancreas, acting as a constant background insulin to keep blood sugar levels stable between meals and during sleep. Basal insulin ensures that the body has a steady supply of insulin, preventing blood sugar from rising too high.
How Long-Acting Basal Insulin Works:
Long-acting basal insulin is designed to provide a slow and consistent release of insulin over an extended period, typically around 24 hours. This helps maintain blood sugar levels within a target range and prevents spikes or crashes. It is often used in conjunction with rapid-acting insulin to provide more comprehensive glycemic control.
Also read about Monitoring Glucose with Fingersticks
Benefits of Long-Acting Basal Insulin:
Stability: The primary benefit of long-acting basal insulin is its ability to maintain consistent blood sugar levels. This stability is essential for diabetes management for certain patients, reducing the risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).
Administration: Long-acting basal insulin offers flexibility in daily routines. It only requires one to two injections each day, simplifying the medication administration process.
Customizable Regimens: Long-acting basal insulins come in various forms and can be tailored to individual needs. This customization allows healthcare providers to create treatment plans that suit each patient’s unique requirements. Healthcare providers will often adjust dosing of long-acting insulins to meet a patient’s target fasted blood sugar. Adjustments will also be made to prevent hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), particularly hypoglycemia at night (also called nocturnal hypoglycemia).
Considerations and Usage:
Timing: Long-acting basal insulin is typically administered once or twice a day, at the same time each day. Consistency in timing is important to maintain stable blood sugar levels.
Combination Therapy: Long-acting basal insulin is often used alongside short-acting or rapid-acting insulin to provide better control for post-meal blood sugar levels. Other diabetes medications such as oral medications or non-insulin injectables are also often part of combination therapy for comprehensive diabetes medication management.
Individualization: Diabetes management is highly individualized. The type and dosage of long-acting basal insulin may vary from person to person. It is determined based on factors such as lifestyle, blood sugar levels, and other health considerations.
Long-acting basal insulin is a staple of diabetes management for many patients. When used in combination as part of a comprehensive diabetes care plan that includes diet, exercise, and other medications managed by a healthcare provider, long-acting basal insulin helps individuals achieve better control over their blood sugar levels to lead an overall healthier life.