Basal vs Bolus. To understand the differences between basal versus bolus insulin, it is best that the physiological needs of the human body be brought into focus. The body’s insulin is produced by the pancreas, and its subsequent release into the bloodstream is governed by two distinct patterns: basal, which means that the insulin release occurs at a constant output, and bolus, which are pulses of insulin release that can be as much as five times the basal rate. Basal insulin release usually occurs during overnight and times of fasting, while bolus insulin release usually occurs from meal intakes. These release patterns are required so that the blood sugar levels remain within the acceptable range.

How does insulin work?

Insulin acts by reducing sugar production in the liver and increases sugar uptake throughout the rest of the body. In terms of insulin injections, rapid- and short-acting insulin preparations are deemed bolus insulin, while intermediate- and long-acting preparations are basal insulins. They are so named due to their duration of action in the body. In general, bolus insulin is able to act within 15 minutes, peak within one to two hours, and last for approximately five hours. Basal insulin, on the other hand, takes about three hours to act, peaks at eight hours, and can last for up to 24 hours.

Importance of keeping blood sugar regulated

The diseases that diabetes mellitus can bring about cannot be understated. The importance of having the appropriate blood sugar level is therefore crucial in preventing and delaying the occurrence of such diseases. For type 1 diabetes mellitus, both basal and bolus insulin injections are used to determine the ideal treatment match. This will enable the medical practitioner to ensure that the treatment regime is tailored to meet the physiological demands of the body’s insulin release to the closest degree. In the case of type 2 diabetes mellitus, as the disease progresses and the hypoglycemic drugs start to falter, insulin is used to complement the treatment regime.

Disclaimer: Please note that the contents of this community article are strictly for informational purposes and should not be considered as medical advice. This article, and other community articles, are not written or reviewed for medical validity by Canadian Insulin or its staff. All views and opinions expressed by the contributing authors are not endorsed by Canadian Insulin. Always consult a medical professional for medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment.