NPH insulin: what it is, what it is used for, and how to use it

 NPH insulin: what it is, what it is used for, and how to use it

Lena Fisher

Insulin is a hormone produced by the human body, more precisely in the pancreas, with the function of controlling the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood and providing energy to the body. However, when the pancreas does not produce sufficient amounts of insulin, diabetes appears, which is characterized by increased sugar in the blood. When there is a lack of this hormone, it is necessary to replace it throughThere are several types of insulin, but one of the best known is the Human Recombinant Insulin NPH (Neutral Protamine Hagedorn) or simply NPH insulin. Let's understand better its importance for those living with diabetes!

What is NPH insulin anyway?

The discovery of insulin, in 1921, was a milestone in world history, allowing thousands of people with diabetes to continue living.Furthermore, NPH has a longer action time compared to Regular, reducing the number of daily applications. NPH has a peak action of 4 to 10 hours, lasting up to 18 hours in the body, and can be applied once or twice a day.

Who can use it?

This insulin is suitable for both children and adults, but is also safe for pregnant women with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, as advised by their doctor. In addition, NPH is usually used in conjunction with rapid-acting insulin (such as Regular) and serves to balance sugar levels throughout the day.glucose after food intake.

The indicated dosage of this medication varies according to the type of diabetes, body weight, and blood glucose levels of the patient. Therefore, its treatment is individualized, and the follow-up of a professional, preferably an endocrinologist, is essential.

How long should it be used for?

The physician is the professional who will prescribe the insulin, determine the dose used and the time of use, according to the patient's individual assessment. This is because the physician needs to evaluate the patient's overall health, including the blood glucose rates done both by self-monitoring (glucose control done by the patient using strips and a glucometer) and by periodically determining theGlycated hemoglobin (a test that indicates the assessment of glucose control in the three months prior to its performance).

When should I not use this medicine?

According to the experts, NPH insulin is not indicated in some cases. These are:

  • Patient with very low blood glucose (hypoglycemia)
  • Patient allergic to human insulin or to any of the compounds contained in the NPH formula

What are the effects of NPH insulin overdose in the body?

The excessive amount of insulin can cause hypoglycemia (sugar level below 70mg/dL in the blood), but other factors can also lead to hypoglycemia, such as eating at the wrong time and even exercising too much:

  • Cold Sweat
  • Sleepiness
  • Nervousness or trembling
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Mental Confusion
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Headache
  • Excessive hunger
  • Sickness
  • Accelerated heartbeat

Hypoglycemia: what to do and how to avoid it?

To treat hypoglycemia, the general recommendation is to take 15 to 20g of fast-absorbing carbohydrates, such as a tablespoon of sugar in a glass of water or pharmacy sachets of glucose, then wait 15 minutes, measure again, and repeat the process until blood glucose is above 70 mg/dL. In addition, it is essential that the patient monitor glucose after use.

How to avoid hypoglycemia:

  • Verify that the dose applied is the one recommended by the doctor
  • If it is correct, your doctor may reduce your insulin dose
  • Check the feeding done before the application
  • Do physical activities with professional guidance

Which ones are What are the effects of the lack of NPH insulin in the body?

Just as the patient can have hypoglycemia, there is also the possibility of having hyperglycemia (high blood glucose level). These cases usually happen if the patient eats more than usual and takes less insulin than the recommended dose. Or in cases of infection or carbohydrate counting errors. Usually, the main symptoms of hyperglycemia are:

  • Increased urine volume
  • Headquarters
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sleepiness
  • Dry skin
  • Dry mouth

However, it is good to remember that, in many cases, hyperglycemia can be silent and present few symptoms. This is why it is important to monitor blood glucose frequently, following medical advice.

What to do in case of hyperglycemia?

According to the specialists, the best way to get out of hyperglycemia is to see a doctor, who can adjust a new dose of NPH insulin or regular insulin to stabilize the amount of sugar in the patient's blood.

Where to buy NPH? Does SUS offer it?

Because it is a drug, NPH insulin can be bought at any pharmacy: a doctor's prescription is required, but it is not withheld. In addition, the drug is also offered free of charge by the SUS (Brazilian Unified Health System) through syringes or application pens, but a doctor's prescription is also required.

Read more: What is diabetes anyway?

Sources: Odilon Denardin, endocrinologist and medical consultant at Labi Exames, and Gabriela Lervolino, endocrinologist with SBEM (Brazilian Society of Endocrinology and Metabology) certification.

References: BD and SBD

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Lena Fisher

Lena Fisher is a wellness enthusiast, certified nutritionist, and author of the popular health and well-being blog. With over a decade of experience in the field of nutrition and health coaching, Lena has dedicated her career to helping people achieve their optimal health and live their best life possible. Her passion for wellness has led her to explore various approaches to achieving overall health, including diet, exercise, and mindfulness practices. Lena's blog is a culmination of her years of research, experience, and personal journey towards finding balance and well-being. Her mission is to inspire and empower others to make positive changes in their lives and embrace a healthy lifestyle. When she's not writing or coaching clients, you can find Lena practicing yoga, hiking the trails, or experimenting with new healthy recipes in the kitchen.