Talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking NPH insulin if you have:
- Liver disease, such as liver failure, cirrhosis, or hepatitis
- Kidney disease, such as kidney failure (renal failure)
- Any allergies, including allergies to foods, dyes, or preservatives.
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
- Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant (see Novolin N and Pregnancy or Humulin N and Pregnancy)
- Breastfeeding (see Novolin N and Breastfeeding or Humulin N and Breastfeeding).
Make sure to tell your healthcare provider about any other medications you are taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
(Click Precautions and Warnings With NPH Insulin to learn more, including information on who should not take NPH insulin.)
NPH insulin contains insulin that is identical to human insulin combined with additives that help the insulin work longer than plain insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is naturally produced by the pancreas. This hormone is important for several functions, such as controlling blood sugar. Insulin helps the cells of your body remove glucose ("sugar") from your bloodstream. This sugar fuels your body's cells, giving them the energy they need to work properly. You may need to take insulin if your pancreas has trouble making enough insulin, which is the case in people with type 1 diabetes and in some people who have type 2 diabetes.
NPH insulin is an intermediate-acting insulin medication. This means that it starts working more quickly than some insulins but more slowly than others and that it lasts longer than some insulins but shorter than others. In some people, NPH insulin may last as long as 24 hours. NPH insulin is often combined with a rapid-acting or short-acting insulin that can help control the blood sugar spike that occurs just after meals.