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Sep

22

Uncontrolled Diabetes, Protect Your Long Term Health!

Uncontrolled Diabetes, Protect Your Long Term Health!Ok, so everyone knows that I’m an upbeat, positive person overall, but I’m not going to sugarcoat anything when it comes to this blog post.  Whether it be type 1 vs type 2 diabetes we all know that we can be up against some serious, long term complications when it comes to battling diabetes on a daily basis 24/7/365.  Its ruthless, its relentless, and probably worse of all, it never takes a day off.

Even when we feel like breaking down, giving up and throwing out the dreaded F-bomb because we’ve just had enough of the finger sticks, insulin injections, 2am lows, I’m here to show you why that is never a good idea.  Why you need to push through and dig deeper even when you feel like giving up.  Always remain vigilant and push through even when you don’t feel like doing so, here’s why!

Glaucoma And Diabetes:

When fluid inside the eye does not drain properly from a buildup of pressure inside the eye, it results in another eye problem with diabetes called glaucoma. The pressure damages nerves and the vessels in the eye, causing changes in vision.

Treatment of open-angle glaucoma, the most common form of glaucoma requires lowering the eye’s pressure by increasing the drainage of aqueous humor or decreasing the production of the fluid. Medications can accomplish both of these goals.

With open-angle glaucoma, there may be no symptoms of this eye problem at all until the disease is very advanced and there is significant vision loss. In the less common form of this eye problem, symptoms can include headaches, eye aches or pain, blurred vision, watering eyes, halos around lights, and loss of vision.

Treatment of this eye problem in diabetes can include special eye drops, laser procedures, medicine, or surgery. Surgery and laser treatments are directed at improving the eye’s aqueous drainage. You can prevent serious eye problems in diabetes problems by getting an annual glaucoma screening from your eye doctor.

Increase In Cardiovascular Disease?

Cardiovascular disease includes blood vessel disease, heart attack and stroke. It is the leading cause of death in Australia. The risk is greater for people with diabetes, who often have increased cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Smoking, having a family history of cardiovascular disease and being inactive also increase your risk.

To reduce your risk and pick up any problems early:

    • Have your blood pressure checked at least every six months, but more often if you have high blood pressure or are taking medication to lower this.
    • Have your cholesterol checked at least yearly, as well as an HbA1c (average blood glucose over the past three months).
    • Further pathology tests such as an electrocardiogram (ECG) or exercise stress test may also be recommended by your doctor.

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Sep

20

Diabetes And Hypertension, Know The Signs

Diabetes And Hypertension, Know The SignsThe other day I was asked a question if diabetics were more susceptible to developing high blood pressure? After doing a some research, it appears that diabetes and hypertension frequently occur together and there seems to be a direct correlation between the two.  

Certain factors such as obesity, inflammation, oxidative stress, even insulin resistance are thought to be the common causes, but recent advances have shed new light as to what causes high blood pressure and what should be done to make it more manageable.

Physical activity plays an important protective role in the two diseases and knowing the common causes and disease mechanisms allows for a more effective and proactive approach in managing both diabetes as well as high blood pressure, so lets take a closer look!

What Causes Hypertension?

High blood pressure that has no known cause is termed primary hypertension (or essential hypertension). This is more common than secondary hypertension, which has an identified cause such as chronic kidney disease.

Primary hypertension is unlikely to have a specific cause but multiple factors, including blood plasma volume and activity of the renin-angiotensin system, the hormonal regulator of blood volume and pressure – and primary hypertension is affected by environmental factors.

Secondary hypertension has specific causes – that is, it is secondary to another problem. One example, thought to be the most common, is primary aldosteronism, a hormone disorder causing an imbalance between potassium and sodium levels.

Common reversible causes are things such as excessive intake of alcohol and use of oral contraceptives, which can cause a slight rise in blood pressure.  Also, hormone therapy for menopause (while it might be slight) has also been shown to raise blood pressure, so make it appoint to chat with your doctor.

Additional examples also include:

  • Kidney disease
  • Pheochromocytoma (a cancer)
  • Cushings syndrome (which can be caused by use of corticosteroid drugs)
  • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (disorder of the adrenal glands, which secrete the hormone cortisol)
  • Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland)

Symptoms Of Hypertension:

Most people with high blood pressure have no signs or symptoms, even if blood pressure readings reach dangerously high levels, which can be kind of scary.

A few people with high blood pressure may have headaches, shortness of breath or nosebleeds, but these signs and symptoms aren’t specific and usually don’t occur until high blood pressure has reached a severe or life-threatening stage.

Ask your doctor for a blood pressure reading at least every two years starting at age 18. If you’re age 40 or older, or you’re age 18-39 with a high risk of high blood pressure, ask your doctor for a blood pressure reading every year. Blood pressure generally should be checked in both arms to determine if there is a difference.

Hypertension, What Should Your BP Be?

Blood pressure readings vary, but most people with diabetes should have a reading of no more than 140/80. The first, or top, number is the systolic pressure, or the pressure in the arteries when your heartbeats and fills the arteries with blood. The second, or bottom, number is the diastolic pressure, or the pressure in the arteries when your heart rests between beats, filling itself with blood for the next contraction.

When it comes to preventing diabetes complications, normal blood pressure is as important as good control of your blood sugar levels.

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Sep

19

The Glycemic Load And How It Helps Manage Your Blood Sugars.

What Is The Glycemic Load?Ok, so I was researching some information the other day when it came to certain foods and I came across a term that was unfamiliar to me.  As diabetics we are so use to hearing about the glycemic index (that’s all that was preached to me upon my T1D diagnoses 11 years ago) and why we need to make sure our foods are on the lower end of this scale to make sure our blood sugars remain more stable and do not skyrocket, but as I was researching these particular foods, I came across something I’ve haven’t really heard much about…the glycemic load.  What is this glycemic load?  Is it the same as the glycemic index?  Will it have a direct impact on my blood sugars?  All great questions so lets take a closer look! 

Difference Between Glycemic Index And Load?

Just to quickly review,  the glycemic index  is a relative ranking of carbohydrate in foods according to how they affect blood glucose levels. Carbohydrates with a low GI value (55 or less) are more slowly digested, absorbed and metabolized and cause a lower and slower rise in blood glucose and are categorized into 3 categories.  

The categories are as follows:

Low = GI value 55 or less

Medium = GI value of 56 – 69 inclusive

High = GI 70 or more

Lower glycemic index foods, unlike high GI, will not cause your blood glucose levels to spike and crash, meaning you get sustained energy from the foods you eat.   So now that we’ve reviewed that tid bit of info, how does the glycemic load compare?

How About The Glycemic Load?

The glycemic load of food is a number (just like the glycemic index) that estimates how much the food will raise a person’s blood glucose level after eating it. One unit of the glycemic load approximates the effect of consuming one gram of glucose, but the difference is that the glycemic load accounts for how much carbohydrate is in a particular food and how much each gram of that particular carbohydrate will raise ones blood glucose levels (now you can see my peaked curiosity).

Foods with a low glycemic load keep blood sugar levels much more consistent, meaning that you avoid experiencing those quick spikes and dramatic lows that we can become accustomed to. The reason being is that you are accounting for that particular carbohydrate with it comes to bolusing for your meals.

By watching the glycemic load of the foods you ingest you can dramatically impact your overall health in many ways.  A diet focused on foods  with a low glycemic load can:

  • Make it easier to lose weight and avoid the dreaded diet plateau
  • Avoid the roller coaster effect and maintain stable blood sugar levels (yes, please!)
  • Help you burn more calories
  • Help with insulin resistance 
  • Lower your risk for heart disease

How Do I Calculate The Glycemic Load?

Ok, so this is probably the most important question.  The glycemic load (GL) is a measure of both the quality (the GI value) and quantity (grams per serving) of a carbohydrate in a particular food. A food’s glycemic load is determined by multiplying its glycemic index by the amount of carbohydrate the food contains in each serving, then dividing that by 100.  Confused a bit, lets take a look at this example of an apple.

So the Glycemic Load = GI x Carbohydrate (g) content per portion ÷ 100.

Using a small apple as an example: GI value = 38.  Carbohydrate per serving = 15g

GL = 38 (glycemic index) x 15 (grams of carb)
                                     100

So the glycemic load of a typical apple is 6.  Great, now your probably asking yourself, what do you do with this information?

Well, similar to the glycemic index, the glycemic load of a food can be classified as low, medium, or high reflecting on how quickly they will raise your blood sugars:

  • Low: 10 or less
  • Medium: 11 – 19
  • High: 20 or more

For optimal health, it is recommended to keep your daily glycemic load under 100. However, the simplest way to use the GL is to choose foods with the lowest GI within a food group or category and to be mindful of your serving sizes.
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Sep

15

What Is A Diabetic Seizure, Warning Signs And Symptoms:

What Is A Diabetic Seizure?As diabetics we should all be very familiar with hypoglycemia but for those who are not, what is hypoglycemia and how can it effect us?

Hypoglycemia is the clinical syndrome that results from low blood sugar. The symptoms of hypoglycemia can vary from person to person, as can the severity as I’ve personally dealt with in the past when my severe low was accompanied with a seizure.

This was the first time this as ever happened to me since being diagnosed as a type 1 diabetic over 11 years ago now.  While I don’t remember the seizure itself, lets just say we made it a memorable experience for the community as it happened at my sons fall soccer tournament.  So what is a hypoglycemic seizure and what are the warning signs of having a seizure?  Lets take a closer look!

What Is A Hypoglycemic Seizure:

So what causes a seizure? A hypoglycemic seizure may be triggered by injecting too much insulin, or failing to eat soon enough after using a fast acting insulin (exactly what happened to me); excessive use of alcohol, skipping meals,or exercising vigorously without adjusting insulin dosages or eating properly.

A seizure may also be triggered by oral diabetes medications that cause the pancreas to produce more insulin. Whatever the cause of the seizure, it needs to be treated as a medical emergency. To identify the onset of ahypoglycemic seizure,look for the following warning signs of seizures and symptoms:

  • Sweating
  • Confusion
  • Feeling faint or too sleepy
  • Shakiness
  • Feeling cold or clammy
  • Hallucinations
  • Unexplained emotional behaviors
  • Uncontrollable crying
  • Unaware of surroundings
  • Changes in vision
  • Loss of ability to speak clearly
  • Loss of muscle control
  • Muscle weakness
  • Anxiety 

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Sep

12

What Is Diabetic Dermopathy, More Than Just Dry Skin?

What Is Diabetic Dermopathy, More Than Just Dry Skin?I’ve been a type 1 diabetic now for the past 10 years and I’ve heard of most of the associated complications associated with the disease, but I came across an article a couple weeks back about diabetic dermopathy shin spots and how they are more prevalent in type 1 diabetics.

Well, never hearing of it, it automatically peaked my interest and the fact that I’ve personally had a couple of sketchy spots on my lower legs over the years, I started to research diabetic dermopathy and what it was all about, so lets take a closer look!

What Causes Diabetic Dermopathy?

One of the more popular diabetic skin ailment (yay us!), diabetic dermopathy is found in more than 50% of individuals dealing with the disease. Diabetic dermopathy is a harmless condition and is likely the most common skin problem in people who have had diabetes for some time, or whose blood sugar levels are poorly controlled and remain high over a prolonged period of time.

The exact cause of diabetic dermopathy is unknown but may actually be associated with diabetic neuropathic (nerve) and vascular (blood vessels) complications, as studies have shown the condition to occur more frequently in diabetic patients with retinopathy (retinal damage of the eye), neuropathy (nerve/sensory damage) and nephropathy (kidney damage).

Diabetic dermopathy tends to occur in older patients or those who have had diabetes for at least 10-20 years. It also appears to be closely linked to increased glycosylated haemoglobin, an indicator of poor control of blood glucose levels.

Because lesions often occur over bony parts of the body such as the shins, it is thought that diabetic dermopathy may also be a magnified response to injury or trauma to these areas. Studies have shown that shin spots have appeared in response to trauma with heat, cold or blunt objects in patients with diabetes.

Signs and Symptoms of Diabetic Dermopathy?

Diabetic dermopathy appears as pink to red or tan to dark brown patches, and it is most frequently found on the lower legs. The patches are slightly scaly and are usually round or oval. Long-standing patches may become faintly indented (atrophic).

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Sep

8

The Health Benefits Of Probiotics For Diabetics

The Health Benefits Of Probiotics For Diabetics

Ok, so there I was researching some information the other day for a particular blog post, and I came across an article pertaining to probiotics.  The fact that I’m not great at multi-tasking, I was immediately side tracked and became submerged in the world of probiotics an all their amazing health benefits.  So what are these little gems all about?  How do we go about getting them in our diet?  What about other alternatives to increasing the amount that we get?  Lets take a closer look! 

 

Well, first off, what are probiotics? Probiotics are microorganisms—such as bacteria, viruses and yeasts—that can be seen only under a microscope and that are often referred to as “healthy” or “good” bacteria.  According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and defined by the World Health Organization, probiotics are “live microorganisms, which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host”.   The benefits of incorporating probiotics into one’s diet have been widely speculated, as little evidence exists to support the long-term health benefits.  Despite the lack of formal evidence, the probiotic trend has swept the health and diet industries for their potential cleansing benefits, immune boosting powers and nutritional value.

Benefits Of Probiotics:

Probiotics are believed to protect us in two ways.  The first is the role is how probiotics play in our digestive tract. We know that our digestive tract needs a healthy balance between the good and bad bacteria, so what gets in the way of this?  It looks like our lifestyle is both the problem and the solution.  Foods high in probiotics (Kombucha, Kefir, pickles, tempeh, just to name a few)  are an amazing way to start getting more into your system, but poor food choices, emotional stress, lack of sleep, antibiotic overuse, other drugs, and environmental influences can all shift the balance in favor of the bad bacteria.

When the digestive tract is healthy, it filters out and eliminates things that can damage it, such as harmful bacteria, toxins, chemicals, and other waste products.  On the flip side, it takes in the things that our body needs (nutrients from food and water) and absorbs and helps deliver them to the cells where they are needed.

The idea is not to kill off all of the bad bacteria.  Our body does have a need for the bad ones and the good ones.  The problem is when the balance is shifted to have more bad than good.  An imbalance has been associated with diarrhea, urinary tract infections, muscle pain, and fatigue.

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Sep

6

Hypoglycemia In Diabetics, Help Share The Warning Signs:

Hypoglycemia In Diabetics, Know The Warning Signs: As diabetics chances are we’ve all experienced those dreaded lows, but what are they? What can we do as type 1 diabetics to avoid them and more importantly, what can we do to prevent them?  Lets take a closer look and examine hypoglycemia!

The body’s most important fuel is glucose, a type of sugar. When you digest most foods, sugar is released, and that sugar ends up in your bloodstream as glucose.

Your body, particularly your brain and nervous system, needs a certain level of glucose to function — not too much, and not too little. If your blood glucose level isn’t right, your body will react by showing certain symptoms.

Hypoglycemia occurs when a person’s blood sugar levels are abnormally low, and it’s a potentially serious condition. If you know someone who has diabetes, you may have heard them talk about “insulin shock,” which is the common name for a severe hypoglycemic reaction.

People with diabetes may experience hypoglycemia if they don’t eat enough or if they take too much insulin — the medicine most commonly used to treat diabetes with those who suffer from type 1.

Causes Of Hypoglycemia:

Most cases of hypoglycemia in adults happen in people with diabetes mellitus. Diabetes has two forms, type 1 (loss of all insulin production) and type 2 (inadequate insulin production due to resistance to the actions of insulin).

People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin to control their glucose level; if they skip meals or have a decreased appetite without changing their insulin dose, BAM, you guessed it, bring on the low!

Insulin is also used to treat some people with type 2 diabetes. If a person with type 1 diabetes accidentally takes too much insulin, or a person with type 2 diabetes accidentally takes too much of their oral medications or insulin, he or she may develop hypoglycemia.

Even when a diabetic patient takes medications correctly, improper meals, odd mealtimes, or excessive exercise may result in hypoglycemia.

Classic Signs Of Hypoglycemia:

Symptoms of a low blood sugar will vary depending on the individual, but here is a list of most of the common ones that I’ve personally experienced.  It should be noted that low blood sugars can occur suddenly and the most common low sugar symptoms include:

  • blurry vision
  • rapid heartbeat
  • sudden mood changes
  • sudden nervousness
  • unexplained fatigue
  • pale skin
  • headache
  • hunger
  • shaking
  • sweating
  • difficulty sleeping
  • skin tingling
  • trouble thinking clearly or concentrating
  • loss of consciousness

If you have hypoglycemic unawareness, a condition in which you do not know your blood sugar level is dropping, your blood sugar can drop so quickly you may not even have warning symptoms. When this occurs, you can faint, experience a seizure, or even go into a coma.  I had the unfortunate experience of a seizure a couple of years ago, definitely not something that I want to deal with again.

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Sep

5

The Hormone Amylin, Can It Help With Weight Loss & Blood Sugar Regulation:

The Hormone Amylin And Type 1 Diabetes:So after having a couple of amazing conversations over on the Facebook page, a lovely young lady asked me if injecting insulin was the reason why she was gaining weight after her type 1 diagnosis.  

While I’ve heard this several times, is it the insulin that is causing the weight gain, or could it be something else?  Perhaps a hormone that as type 1 diabetics we also stop producing since our beta cells have died off.  

Have you ever heard of Amylin? Could the lack of this hormone be the reason why she is seeing an increase in her weight? What is amylin anyway, and is it something we should be concerned with if we are no longer producing it?

These are all great questions and honestly this was news to me as well as I’ve never heard of it.  So lets take a closer look at what this little hormone does and if it has a direct impact on our overall health as type 1 diabetics!

Function Of Amylin?

So what is amylin? Or as its also called, pramlintide, and how can it help us? Amylin is a peptide hormone (insulin’s partner in crime) which is released by the beta cells in response to ingesting food. This hormone, is also released at the same time as insulin, but in different quantities and its primary function is to help aid in the digestive process by helping to control the rate of digestion.

The complete range of functions of amylin is still not fully known, but its main function has been determined to be to help to slow the speed at which food is digested and glucose is released into the bloodstream after a meal. Essentially, amylin keeps too much glucose from appearing in the blood in the first place.

Amylin accomplishes this in a number of ways. It decreases appetite by promoting a feeling of fullness, hence reducing food intake. It slows gastric emptying and inhibits the secretion of digestive enzymes, all of which slow the appearance of glucose in the blood after a meal and it also slows the secretion of glucagon, which otherwise causes additional glucose release by the liver at mealtimes.

In short, the release of amylin minimizes glucose spikes that often occur after meals. I know, frustrating right!  I mean this disease is already hard enough, now this.  Fortunately for us, we do have another option to replace this important hormone that has also died off with our beta cells so go ahead and keep on reading.

 

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Aug

30

“The Forbidden Rice” Why Is It Considered The Healthiest?

Black Rice So I was chatting with a friend the other day and she asked me if I have ever heard of…”forbidden rice“.  

At first I thought she was joking, but as I was chuckling she proceeded to ask if I have ever tried it at home cooking for the kids or if I ever incorporated it into my diet. 

Needless to say I haven’t, and as she proceeded to tell me that I absolutely need to buy some, I thought I would do a little more research to see what this “forbidden rice” was all about, so lets take a closer look!

What Is Forbidden Rice?

Forbidden rice is nothing more than black rice, and to be completely honest with you, I never even knew black rice was a thing.  When it came to rice I was only familiar with a few…White, Aborio, Jasmine, Wild and Brown to be specific.

What separates black rice from the pack? Well, like brown rice, black rice is unpolished, meaning that the hull of the grain (which is also a fantastic source of insoluble fiber) is still intact. Black rice provides a whopping 3 grams of fiber per half of scoop.

Even better than the high fiber content, only black rice contains anthocyanins, the same antioxidant compounds that make blueberries and blackberries such valuable additions to our diets. These compounds are what turn the rice a deep purple as it cooks.

Black Rice And Heart Health:

As diabetics we all know how important it is to eat a healthy lifestyle and even incorporate exercise to not only help our blood sugars, but to keep our heart healthy and in peak performance.

Per the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US for both men and women, accounting for one in every four deaths.

So how does black rice help in this area?

Well, per a study by the Journal of Nutrition:

Black rice has been show to decrease atherosclerotic plaque in the arteries. When this plaque builds up, it causes the arteries to harden and become blocked.

It’s a major risk factor for both heart attack and stroke. In this particular study, male rabbits were injected with high levels of cholesterol in order to cause this plaque formation. They were then divided into five groups, four of which were fed high cholesterol diets, one without rice and the others with various types of rice, including black.

The plaque was 50% lower in rabbits fed black rice (or red rice) than in those fed with white rice. Researchers conclude that the antioxidants in black rice may play a role in reducing atherosclerosis.

You can read about the entire study here

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Aug

28

Insulin Basics: What Is Insulin & Stop With Cinnamon Claims.

Insulin Basics: What Is Insulin?

Over the past couple of days, we’ve been discussing several diabetes related topics but what about one of the most important ones, especially when it comes to keeping us type 1 diabetics alive. No I’m not talking about okra, some exotic fruit, cinnamon, or essential oil I’m talking about insulin! 

Before we go there though, for those of you who make these claims (especially about okra and cinnamon) in regards to treating or as many of you like to say “cure” type 1 diabetes, you really need to stop. Over the past year I’ve been getting bombarded with sales pitches and I’m honestly tired of it. Cinnamon is a great antioxidant and comes with some fantastic health benefits but when it comes to type 1 diabetes, don’t you think if it was that easy, it would be mainstream information and the millions of us that battle with this disease day in and day out would avoid the BS that we deal with daily?  

Or perhaps the miracle lies within the specially formulated product you are trying to sell me? Its utterly ridiculous, and the fact that you know nothing about the disease itself or how it works, you need to take a step back and take your products with you.

I mean, you realize that you produce insulin naturally, its a normal human bodily function.  What makes you think that okra, cinnamon, or your essential oil is going to magically wake up my dead beta cells (these are the cells that actually produce insulin, feel free to google, its a fascinating read).  Perhaps your cinnamon, shake or oil defies all science and type 1 diabetes research?  

Or perhaps you have magic okra that you purchased from the same person who sold Jack his beanstalk beans? Perhaps the laws of physics cease to exist in your potent concoction? Either way you need to stop before you seriously put someone in a very bad predicament.

Now I can only talk about type 1 diabetes as this is what I  eat, breath and live with daily. With type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system attacks part of its own pancreas. Scientists are not sure why, but the immune system mistakenly sees the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas as foreign, and destroys them. This attack is known as autoimmune disease.

Insulin is vital for survival because without it, simply put, life would cease to exist (including yours).  So what is insulin and why is it so important for type 1 diabetics, lets take a look!

What Is Insulin?

So the most basic question, what is insulin? When you digest food, your body changes most of the food you eat into glucose (a form of sugar). Insulin allows this glucose to enter all the cells of your body and be used as energy. When you have diabetes, your body doesn’t make enough insulin (zero in the case of type 1, unless your in your honeymoon phase) or can’t use it properly, so the glucose builds up in your blood instead of moving into the cells. Too much glucose in the blood can lead to serious health problems.

All people who have type 1 and some people who have type 2 diabetes need to take insulin to help control their blood sugar levels. The goal is to keep your blood sugar level in a normal range as much as possible so you’ll stay healthy. Insulin can’t be taken by mouth. It is usually taken with injections (shots). It can also be taken with an pre filled syringe or an insulin pump.

Types Of Insulin:

Manufactured insulin comes in several types that differ in the way in which they act inside the body. Each type differs in three ways:

  • Onset: The length of time after injection that the insulin begins to work
  • Peak: the length of time after injection that the insulin takes to reach its maximum effectiveness
  • Duration: the length of time in which it remains effective

The four basic types and their respective onset, peak and duration are as follows:

  • Rapid Acting: begins to work after 15 minutes, peaks in 30 to 90 minutes, and has a duration of three to four hours.
  • Short Acting: begins to work in 30 to 60 minutes, peaks in two to three hours, and has a duration of three to six hours.
  • Intermediate Acting: begins to work in 90 minutes to six hours, peaks in four to 14 hours, and has a duration of up to 24 hours.
  • Long Acting: begins to work in six to 14 hours and remains effective for 24 to 36 hours.

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