The key difference between basal and bolus insulin is that basal insulin controls blood sugar throughout the day and night while bolus insulin controls blood sugar at mealtimes, especially when the blood sugar rises suddenly.
Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas. It regulates the blood glucose level. When there is a disorder in producing insulin, sugar builds up in the blood, causing diabetes or high blood sugar and increasing the chances of other health problems. At that time, insulin supplements have to be taken in order to treat and manage diabetes. Basal insulin and bolus insulin are two types of insulin that control blood sugar. Basal insulin lowers blood sugar throughout the day working as long-acting insulin while bolus insulin lowers blood sugar at mealtime working as rapid-acting insulin. Basal-bolus therapy is the combination of both types of insulin which mimics the body’s natural insulin function.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Basal Insulin
3. What is Bolus Insulin
4. Similarities Between Basal and Bolus Insulin
5. Side by Side Comparison – Basal vs Bolus Insulin in Tabular Form
What is Basal Insulin?
Basal insulin is a type of insulin that controls blood sugar throughout the day and overnight. Its action is long-lasting. Therefore, basal insulin is taken to manage blood sugar throughout the day for many hours and the night time. It lowers blood sugar in the absence of food intake as well. It keeps the blood sugar level in the normal range all the time. Basal insulin in the form of one or two injections fulfils the basal requirement of insulin in the body in the absence of food intake. Usually, basal insulin is taken around dinnertime or bedtime.
Basal insulin is vital for diabetic patients. When we sleep or fast between meals, our liver continuously secretes glucose into the bloodstream. To control blood glucose, you need to take basal insulin if you are a diabetic patient. Glargine, detemir and degludec are several basal insulin types.
What is Bolus Insulin?
Bolus insulin is short-acting insulin that works rapidly in controlling blood sugar. Especially after meals, our blood glucose level rises. Therefore, bolus insulin controls spikes of blood glucose after our meals. Hence bolus insulin is also known as mealtime insulin. Bolus insulin starts working in about 15 minutes and peaks at 1 hour. Furthermore, its action continues for 2 – 4 hours. Patients are advised to take bolus insulin and well as basal insulin treatments in order to control diabetes. Lispro and glulisine are two types of bolus insulin.
What are the Similarities Between Basal and Bolus Insulin?
- Basal and bolus insulin are two types of insulin.
- Both control blood glucose level.
- Basal-bolus therapy consists of a combination of basal insulin and bolus insulin.
What is the Difference Between Basal and Bolus Insulin?
Basal insulin controls blood glucose throughout the day and night. On the other hand, bolus insulin controls blood glucose after eating. Therefore, this is the key difference between basal and bolus insulin. Moreover, basal insulin is slow acting and long-lasting. In contrast, bolus insulin is short-acting or mealtime insulin.
Furthermore, basal insulin is effective for 24 hours, while bolus insulin is effective for 2-4 hours. So, this is also a significant difference between basal and bolus insulin.
Summary – Basal vs Bolus Insulin
Basal insulin and bolus insulin are two types of insulin. Basal insulin is long-lasting insulin that keeps blood glucose at the normal range during the periods of not taking food, especially at the night time. It regulates blood glucose throughout the day and night. In contrast, bolus insulin is short-acting insulin that controls blood glucose after eating; it especially prevents rises of blood glucose. So, this is the summary of the difference between basal and bolus insulin.
1. Railton, David. “Basal-Bolus Insulin Therapy: How to Use It, Benefits, and Risks.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 29 Mar. 2019, Available here.
2. “The Different Types of Diabetes and Insulins.” Rapid-Acting Insulin, Available here.