Insulin human isophane (nph)
Commonly used brand name(s)
In the U.S.
- HumuLIN N
- NovoLIN N
Available Dosage Forms:
Therapeutic Class: Antidiabetic
Pharmacologic Class: Insulin, Isophane (NPH)
Uses for insulin human isophane (nph)
Insulin human isophane is an intermediate-acting type insulin. Insulin is one of many hormones that help the body turn the food we eat into energy. This is done by using the glucose (sugar) in the blood as quick energy. Also, insulin helps us store energy that we can use later. When you have diabetes mellitus, your body cannot make enough insulin or does not use insulin properly. This causes you to have too much sugar in your blood. Like other types of insulin, insulin human isophane is used to keep your blood sugar level close to normal.
Insulin human isophane (nph) is available only with your doctor's prescription.
Before using insulin human isophane (nph)
In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For insulin human isophane (nph), the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to insulin human isophane (nph) or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.
Appropriate studies have not been performed on the relationship of age to the effects of Humulin® N in the pediatric population. Safety and efficacy have not been established.
Although appropriate studies on the relationship of age to the effects of Humulin® N have not been performed in the geriatric population, geriatric-specific problems are not expected to limit the usefulness of insulin human isophane (nph) in the elderly. However, elderly patients are more likely to have hypoglycemia and age-related kidney, liver, or heart problems, which may require caution and an adjustment in the dose in patients receiving insulin human isophane (nph).
Interactions with medicines
Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are taking insulin human isophane (nph), it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.
Using insulin human isophane (nph) with any of the following medicines may cause an increased risk of certain side effects, but using both drugs may be the best treatment for you. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
Interactions with food/tobacco/alcohol
Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.
Other medical problems
The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of insulin human isophane (nph). Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:
- Diabetic ketoacidosis (too much acid in the blood) or
- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)—Should not be used in patients with these conditions. If you have low blood sugar and take insulin, your blood sugar may reach dangerously low levels.
- Hypokalemia (low potassium in the blood)—May make this condition worse and increase your chance of having serious side effects.
- Infection or any illness or
- Stress (eg, physical or emotional)—These conditions increase blood sugar levels, and may increase the amount of insulin you need.
- Kidney disease or
- Liver disease—Use with caution. The effects of the medicine may be increased because of the slower removal of the medicine from the body.
Proper use of insulin human isophane (nph)
A nurse or other trained health professional may give you insulin human isophane (nph). You may also be taught how to give your medicine at home. Insulin human isophane (nph) is given as a shot under your skin.
Always double-check both the concentration (strength) of your insulin and your dose. Concentration and dose are not the same. The dose is how many units of insulin you will use. The concentration tells how many units of insulin are in each milliliter (mL), such as 100 units/mL (U-100), but this does not mean you will use 100 units at a time.
Each package of Humulin® N contains a patient information sheet. Read this sheet carefully before beginning your treatment and each time you refill for any new information, and make sure you understand:
- How to prepare the medicine.
- How to inject the medicine.
- How to dispose of syringes, needles, and injection devices.
The insulin solution should look cloudy all the way through after mixing. Do not use Humulin® N if it has any small particles in it.
Use a new needle for the prefilled pen each time you give yourself an injection. Always remove and throw the needle after each injection from the pen. Store it without a needle attached.
Follow carefully the special meal plan your doctor gave you. This is the most important part of controlling your condition, and is necessary if the medicine is to work properly. Also, exercise regularly and test for sugar in your blood or ketones in your urine as directed.
Do not change the brand, type, or dose of your insulin unless your doctor tells you to. When you receive a new supply of insulin, check the label to be sure if it is the correct type of insulin.
The dose of insulin human isophane (nph) will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of insulin human isophane (nph). If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.
The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.
- For injection dosage form:
- For diabetes mellitus:
- Adults—The dose is based on your blood sugar and must be determined by your doctor.
- .Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
- For diabetes mellitus:
Call your doctor or pharmacist for instructions.
Keep out of the reach of children.
Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
Ask your healthcare professional how you should dispose of any medicine you do not use.
Store insulin containers that have not been opened in the refrigerator in the original carton until the expiration date. Do not freeze. Do not use the insulin if it has been frozen. You may also store the unopened prefilled pen at room temperature for 14 days, or the unopened vials at room temperature for up to 31 days.
Store the opened vial of insulin in the refrigerator for 31 days. Do not freeze. If you cannot keep your vial of insulin in the refrigerator, you may store it at room temperature in a cool place, away from direct heat and light, for only 31 days.
The prefilled pen you are currently using should not be refrigerated. You should store the pen at room temperature in a cool place away from direct heat and light, for only 14 days.
Precautions while using insulin human isophane (nph)
Never share insulin needles or syringes with others under any circumstances. It is not safe for one pen to be used for more than one person. Sharing needles can result in transmission of hepatitis viruses, HIV, or other bloodborne illnesses.
Your doctor will want to check your progress at regular visits, especially during the first few weeks you are using insulin human isophane (nph). Blood and urine tests may be needed to check for unwanted effects.
It is very important to follow carefully any instructions from your health care team about:
- Alcohol—Drinking alcohol (including beer and wine) may cause severe low blood sugar. Discuss this with your health care team.
- Other medicines—Do not take other medicines during the time you are using insulin human isophane (nph) unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This especially includes nonprescription medicines such as aspirin, and medicines for appetite control, asthma, colds, cough, hay fever, or sinus problems.
- Counseling—Other family members need to learn how to prevent side effects or help with side effects if they occur. Also, patients with diabetes may need special counseling about diabetes medicine dosing changes that might occur because of lifestyle changes, such as changes in exercise and diet. Furthermore, counseling on contraception and pregnancy may be needed because of the problems that can occur in patients with diabetes during pregnancy.
- Travel—Keep a recent prescription and your medical history with you. Be prepared for an emergency as you would normally. Make allowances for changing time zones and keep your meal times as close as possible to your usual meal times.
In case of emergency: There may be a time when you need emergency help for a problem caused by your diabetes. You need to be prepared for these emergencies. It is a good idea to:
- Wear a medical identification (ID) bracelet or neck chain at all times. Also, carry an ID card in your wallet or purse that says that you have diabetes and a list of all of your medicines.
- Keep an extra supply of insulin and syringes with needles or injection devices on hand in case high blood sugar occurs.
- Keep some kind of quick-acting carbohydrate handy, such as raisins or crackers, to treat low blood sugar.
- Have a glucagon kit available in case severe low blood sugar occurs. Check and replace any expired kits regularly.
Insulin human isophane (nph) may cause serious allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention. Tell your doctor right away if you have a rash, itching, swelling of the face, tongue, and throat, trouble breathing, or chest pain after you get the injection.
Using insulin human isophane (nph) together with other diabetes medicine (eg, pioglitazone, rosiglitazone, Actos®, Actoplus Met®, Avandia®) may cause serious heart problem or edema (fluid retention). Check with your doctor immediately if you are rapidly gaining weight, having shortness of breath, chest pain or discomfort, extreme tiredness or weakness, trouble breathing, uneven heartbeat, or excessive swelling of the hands, wrist, ankles, or feet.
You may have some skin redness, rash, itching, or swelling at the injection site. If this irritation is severe or does not go away, call your doctor. Do not inject insulin human isophane (nph) into a skin area that is red, swollen, or itchy.
Insulin human isophane (nph) may make you dizzy or drowsy. Make sure you know how you react to insulin human isophane (nph) before you drive, use machines, or do other jobs that require you to be alert.
Too much Humulin® N can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Low blood sugar also can occur if you use Humulin® N with another antidiabetic medicine, changes in insulin regimen (eg, insulin strength, type of insulin, injection site), delay or miss a meal or snack, exercise more than usual, or drink alcohol. Low blood sugar must be treated before it causes you to pass out (unconsciousness). People feel different symptoms of low blood sugar. It is important that you learn which symptoms of low blood sugar you usually have so that you can treat it quickly.
If symptoms of low blood sugar occur, eat glucose tablets or gel to relieve the symptoms. Also, check your blood for low blood sugar. Go to a doctor or a hospital right away if the symptoms do not improve. Someone should call for emergency help immediately if severe symptoms such as convulsions (seizures) or unconsciousness occur. Have a glucagon kit available, along with a syringe and needle, and know how to use it. Members of your household also should know how to use it.
Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) may occur if you do not take enough or skip a dose of your medicine, overeat or do not follow your meal plan, changes in insulin regimen, have a fever or infection, or do not exercise as much as usual. High blood sugar can be very serious and must be treated right away. It is important that you learn which symptoms you have in order to treat it quickly. Talk to your doctor about the best way to treat high blood sugar.
Symptoms of high blood sugar include blurred vision, drowsiness, dry mouth, flushed, dry skin, fruit-like breath odor, increased urination, ketones in the urine, loss of appetite, stomachache, nausea, or vomiting, tiredness, troubled breathing (rapid and deep), unconsciousness, and unusual thirst. If symptoms of high blood sugar occur, check your blood sugar level and then call your doctor for instructions.
Insulin human isophane (nph) may cause low levels of potassium in your blood. Do not use medicines, supplements, or salt substitutes that contain potassium unless you have discussed this with your doctor.
Insulin human isophane (nph) side effects
Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:
Incidence not known
- bloating or swelling of the face, arms, hands, lower legs, or feet
- blurred vision
- cold sweats
- cool, pale skin
- decreased urine
- difficulty swallowing
- dry mouth
- fast heartbeat
- hives, itching, or rash
- increased hunger
- increased thirst
- irregular heartbeat
- loss of appetite
- muscle pain or cramps
- nausea or vomiting
- numbness or tingling in the hands, feet, or lips
- puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue
- rapid weight gain
- slurred speech
- tightness in the chest
- tingling of the hands or feet
- unusual tiredness or weakness
- unusual weight gain or loss
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:
Incidence not known
- Redness, swelling, or itching skin at the injection site
- weight gain
Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.