What Is Regular Insulin Used For?
Regular insulin is used for controlling blood sugar in people with diabetes. Specifically, it is used to help control the blood sugar spikes that occur after meals. Occasionally, healthcare providers may recommend off-label regular insulin uses as well, such as for treating high potassium levels. This diabetes medication is approved for use in both adults and children.
Regular insulin (Humulin® R, Novolin® R) is the standard, basic, "no frills" insulin used to help control blood sugar in people with diabetes. This medication is short-acting and is used to control the rise in blood sugar that occurs after meals. Alternatively, regular insulin can also be used in an insulin pump or given by IV.
Regular insulin comes in two concentrations -- standard U-100 (100 units per mL) and U-500 (500 units per mL). The U-500 form of regular insulin is especially useful for people who take very high doses of insulin (since it allows for a smaller volume to be injected).
In healthy people without diabetes, insulin levels do not stay the same throughout the day; instead, they fluctuate in response to changes in blood sugar levels. In order to mimic the natural insulin changes that help keep blood sugar safely controlled, many healthcare providers recommend "basal-bolus" insulin regimens. These regimens often involve a longer-acting insulin to provide a basal insulin level (a relatively steady background level of insulin throughout the day). A short-acting insulin, such as regular insulin, or a rapid-acting insulin is added to provide the bolus (a quick, fast-acting, short-lived dose of insulin) to handle the sudden rise in blood sugar levels that follows each meal.
Regular insulin can also be used in insulin pumps, although the newer, rapid-acting insulins are usually preferred for pump use.
Although most people take regular insulin as an injection just under the skin, regular insulin can also be given intravenously (by IV). Regular insulin is the only type of insulin that can be given this way.