What is Humalog (Insulin Lispro)?

Humalog is a diabetic medication which is administered through injections and it is the brand name version of insulin Lispro. Humalog Mix 75/25 and Mix 50/50 contain the following mixtures of insulin:

  • Lispro
  • Lispro Protamine

The drug is fast-acting insulin also known as meal time insulin and is taken immediately before a meal or after a meal; to be precise, This insulin is taken 15 minutes prior eating or right after a meal. This means it works quickly (15minues after taking it) than the other types of insulin. When you eat, blood glucose levels rise; this is when the pancreas produces more insulin to aid in offsetting and balancing the rising blood sugar levels. Nonetheless, if you have diabetes, the body does not release enough insulin naturally. The goal of Humalog is to take over the role of the natural insulin to keep the blood glucose levels within the recommended range after consuming a meal by:

  1. Helping some tissues in your body to preserve glucose in their cells
  2. Preventing the liver from releasing more glucose
  3. Hindering the breakdown of proteins and fats
  4. Helping to control the overall production as well as breakdown of sugar in your body

If the medical care provider prescribes this rapid-acting insulin, you will require a long-acting as well to aid in managing the blood sugar level during the night and between meals. Taking the combination of rapid-acting insulin and long-acting insulin can be beneficial in controlling glucose levels throughout the day. While on the medication, a patient will experience its side effects.

Humalog Side Effects

Alongside its wanted effects, some side effects of Humalog can be triggered by insulin lispro (it’s the active substance contained in the Humalog Kwikpen). A side effect is an undesired response brought by a medication when taken in normal dose. The negative effects can be minor or severe, temporal or permanent. If anxious about the unwanted effects, discuss with the doctor the risk and the benefits of the drug, if the benefits outweigh the risks, it’s worth taking the medicine. Bear in mind the medical care provider is aware of the negative effects and will advise accordingly in case they occur. People are different and so are the negative effects. Some patients may not experience the negative effects of Humalog Kwikpen, yet others will encounter a number of them.

Examples of the minor or mild side effects are:

  • Voice changes
  • Congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Body aches and pain
  • Sneezing
  • Stuffy nose
  • Tender swollen glands on the neck
  • Itching, swelling, redness at the injected area

The good thing with the above less severe side effects of insulin Humalog is that they will clear without any medical attention. You will only face them for a number of days or a few weeks, as the body becomes used to the medication, they will go away. However, if the negative effects interfere with your daily activities by being bothersome or irritating, don’t hesitate to contact the health care professional. Additionally, the physician may give tips on how to manage the negative effects before they clear.

The severe negative effects of this insulin need medical intervention since they can result in serious complications if not handled. If you experience any of the following serious or major unwanted effects, contact the physician immediately:

Low Blood Sugar (Hypoglycemia)

It occurs if the amount of blood glucose drops to a level that is extremely low to sustain the normal functioning of the body. In most patients, it’s defined as blood glucose level below 70 mg/dl. A low blood glucose level is especially common if taking insulin such as Humalog and can result in short-term and long-term complications. Left untreated, it can cause a coma or even death. To curb hypoglycemia and its fatal unwanted effects, it’s vital to monitor the blood sugar levels and treat it as soon as possible.

Below are telltale signs of dropping glucose levels:

  • Ravenous hunger
  • Feelings of anxiety
  • Restless nights
  • Shakes and tremor
  • Emotional instability
  • Sweating
  • Light-headedness and dizziness
  • Wandering thoughts
  • Vision problems
  • Slurred speech

Low Potassium (Hypokalemia) Levels

It refers to extremely low potassium levels than normal in the blood. Potassium is a chemical which is important for the proper functioning of the muscle cells, especially the heart muscle cells and nerves. The normal blood potassium level is between 3.6 to 5.2 millimoles per liter (mmol/L). An extremely low potassium level is below 2.5 mmol/L and is fatal, thus medical attention should be sought with immediate effect.

The symptoms of low potassium levels may include:

  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle cramps
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Uneven heartbeat
  • Allergic reactions

If you have existing allergies, it’s advisable to inform the doctor. Furthermore, a serious allergic reaction may occur while on Humalog because of the active ingredient. The reaction may be moderate or severe, whichever the case, it’s crucial to notify the health practitioner if faced with the following signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction:

  • Wheezing
  • Trouble breathing
  • Fast heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Itching skin rash all over the body
  • Feeling like one may pass out

The physician may prescribe another medication if negative effects don’t clear on their own or they turn out to be severe. The above is not a complete list of possible unwanted effects. If you detect unwanted effects not listed above, refer to the pharmacist or the doctor.

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.