Diabetes Home > NPH Insulin

Available without a prescription, NPH insulin is a medication used for treating diabetes. It is an intermediate-acting insulin that is used to control blood sugar throughout the day. NPH insulin comes in injectable form and is injected just under the skin, usually once or twice daily. While most people tolerate this form of insulin well, potential side effects include changes in blood sugar levels and injection site skin reactions.

What Is NPH Insulin?

NPH insulin (Humulin® N, Novolin® N) is an intermediate-acting insulin used to treat diabetes. It starts working more slowly, has a lower peak, and lasts longer than regular insulin. NPH stands for Neutral Protamine Hagedorn, so named because it has a neutral pH, contains protamine, and was invented by a scientist named Hans Christian Hagedorn.
(Click What Is NPH Insulin Used For? for more information, including possible off-label uses.)

Potential Side Effects of NPH Insulin

As with any medicine, side effects are possible with NPH insulin. However, not everyone who uses the medication will experience side effects. In fact, most people tolerate it quite well. If side effects do occur, in most cases, they are minor and either require no treatment or can easily be treated by you or your healthcare provider. Serious side effects are less common.
Possible side effects of NPH insulin (as well as all other forms of insulin) include, but are not limited to:
  • Low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia)
  • A skin reaction at the injection site
  • Thickening or pitting of the skin at the injection site.
(Click Side Effects of NPH Insulin to learn more, including potentially serious side effects you should report immediately to your healthcare provider.)
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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