Diabetes can change over time, and so may your treatment needs

Diabetes can change over time, and so may your treatment needs

You may already be doing things that are helpful for controlling your blood sugar and lowering your A1C. See why you may also need to take insulin at some point to keep your blood sugar in your target range. If you have type 1 diabetes, insulin is already a part of your treatment.

What is insulin and how does it affect blood sugar?

Insulin is a hormone made naturally in the pancreas that helps move sugar into the cells of your body. Your cells use the sugar as fuel to make energy.

Without enough insulin, sugar stays in your bloodstream, raising your blood sugar. High blood sugar, or hyperglycemia, can lead to the signs and symptoms of diabetes, such as:

  • Feeling extreme thirst or hunger
  • Needing to go to the bathroom more often
  • Blurry vision

Over time, hyperglycemia can damage your nerves, eyesight, and kidneys, so it’s important to get your blood sugar in the target range recommended by your health care provider.


An organ located behind the stomach that produces insulin and other hormones that regulate blood sugar levels and keep them from getting too high or too low.


A blood test that measures a person’s average blood sugar over the previous 2 to 3 months.    

Different types of insulin are grouped by how long they work

Type of insulin
Starts working in
Long-acting 1 hour Up to 42 hours
Rapid-acting 10-30 minutes Up to 5 hours
Premixeda 10-30 minutes Up to 24 hours

Long-acting (basal) insulin. Long-acting insulin works to control blood sugar between meals and when you sleep. Long-acting insulin is taken once or twice daily (often with your evening meal or at bedtime) to help give you around-the-clock blood sugar control. This is likely the first type of insulin your health care provider will prescribe for you if you have type 2 diabetes.

Rapid or fast-acting (bolus) insulin. Fast-acting insulin is taken near mealtime. This insulin works quickly to control the rapid spike in blood sugar after meals. Fast-acting insulin imitates the body’s natural release of insulin at mealtime.

Premixed insulin.a Premixed insulin combines the action of fast-acting and long-acting insulin. For example, a 70/30 mix means 70% has an extended action for between meals, and 30% acts fast for mealtime coverage.

aPremixed insulin combines specific proportions of a long-acting insulin with insulin that provides coverage for a meal in one vial or insulin pen. (The numbers following the brand name indicate the percentage of each type of action.)    

Starting on insulin

If you’re living with diabetes, you know how challenging it can be to reach your A1C and daily blood sugar goals. Even if you are eating well, being active, and taking your medication as prescribed, you may still not be at goal.

If you have type 2 diabetes, your doctor may suggest adding insulin to your diabetes treatment plan to help keep your blood sugar in your target range. Remember, diabetes can change over time and so can your treatment needs.

Questions for your doctor

We’ve prepared some questions to help guide the conversation with your health care provider.

Get the guide 

Could Tresiba® be right for you?

It’s time for around-the-clock blood sugar control. Learn more about Tresiba® and ask your health care provider if Tresiba® could be right for you.  

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