Intermediate-Acting Insulin

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition characterized by the body’s inability to produce insulin. Insulin therapy is a cornerstone of treatment, and different types of insulin are used to manage blood sugar levels. Intermediate-acting insulin, also known as NPH insulin, plays a crucial role in maintaining stable blood sugar control for individuals with Type 1 diabetes.

Intermediate-Acting Insulin: How It Works

Basics of NPH Insulin

Intermediate-acting insulin gets its name from its duration of action – it falls between short-acting and long-acting insulins. NPH (Neutral Protamine Hagedorn) insulin is typically cloudy in appearance and requires gentle mixing before administration. Upon injection, it forms small crystals under the skin, gradually releasing insulin over a period of 12 to 18 hours.

Benefits and Uses

1. Coverage Between Meals

Intermediate-acting insulin is designed to provide a baseline level of insulin throughout the day. This helps control blood sugar levels between meals and during periods of fasting.

2. Nighttime Protection

NPH insulin’s prolonged action is particularly advantageous during the night when blood sugar fluctuations can be challenging to manage. It helps prevent overnight hyperglycemia by providing a consistent insulin supply.

Dosage and Administration

Consultation with Doctor

The appropriate dosage of NPH insulin varies for each individual. Healthcare providers consider factors such as current blood sugar levels, dietary habits, physical activity, and overall health when determining the right dose. Intermediate-acting insulin is usually injected subcutaneously in areas with a higher fat content.

Considerations and Precautions

1. Consistent Timing

Maintaining a consistent schedule for administering intermediate-acting insulin is essential. This helps ensure that blood sugar levels remain stable throughout the day.

2. Risk of Hypoglycemia

Like all insulin types, intermediate-acting insulin carries a risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Monitoring blood sugar levels regularly and recognizing the symptoms of hypoglycemia is crucial for safe insulin management.


Intermediate-acting insulin, or NPH insulin, provides a valuable tool for individuals with Type 1 diabetes to manage their blood sugar levels effectively. Its extended duration of action ensures continuous coverage and stable control between meals and throughout the night. However, proper consultation with healthcare providers, consistent timing, and vigilant monitoring are essential for harnessing the benefits of intermediate-acting insulin while minimizing the risks associated with insulin therapy.

Ex. insulin isophane