Islets of Hope   What are basal insulin and basal rates?

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Want help determining how to calculate your need for insulin? First, be sure to check with your doctor but you can also use Insulin Pumper's insulin calculating tool to better understand how your doctor might  determine your need for insulin.

diabetes medical terms
Medical Encyclopedia


Basal Insulin - Basal Rate Insulin

Basal insulin is sometimes also called "background insulin"

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Basal (pronounced bay-sill)

Definition:  Basal insulin may also sometimes be called "background" insulin, that is, the insulin working behind the scenes.  Basal insulin may be covered with Lantus insulin (via shots), or in some cases, intermediate acting insulin like NPH.  

Rapid acting insulin is generally used to cover food eaten when taking shots, but almost always the only insulin used in an insulin pump.  Rapid insulin, when used in an insulin pump, therefore covers meal and correction boluses as well as is used for administering basal insulin.

The term basal rate is used to describe the rate of steady or continuous (or, in the case of an insulin pump, periodic, intermittent delivery of insulin, usually every few minutes) supply of a drug, chemical or process.

In the treatment of diabetes the term basal rate simply means the low rate of insulin supply needed to cover the basal metabolic functions of daily living (i.e. breathing, heart rate, and other metabolic processes of the body). That is, what insulin is needed to maintain good blood sugar control without taking into account eating any food (food is covered with a "bolus" of insulin).

All persons with the juvenile form of type 1 diabetes need to take insulin to live.  

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Page Updated 07/24/2007