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Inhaled Insulin

Researchers, doctors, and people with diabetes agree that injected insulin works well to manage the disease. They'll probably also say that getting insulin into your body through something other than a needle would be even better.

You can't get insulin in a pill, but how about breathing it in?

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How Inhaled Insulin Works

The idea of inhaling insulin has been around for decades. It wasn't until the 1990s that researchers made it possible. 

With an inhaler much like the ones people with asthma use, you breathe a fine insulin powder into your lungs. There, it enters your blood through tiny blood vessels.

Inhaled Insulin Today

In June 2014, the FDA approved Afrezza. It's an inhaler with pre-measured, rapid-acting insulin you use before meals.

It's not for diabetes emergencies such as diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). Common side effects of inhaled insulin are low blood sugar, a cough, and a scratchy or sore throat.

If you have type 1 diabetes, you'll still need to take long-acting insulin, too, to help control your blood sugar.

If you smoke or you have a lung disease, such as asthma or COPD, you shouldn't use inhaled insulin.

Early Inhaled Insulin

The FDA approved the first inhaled insulin, Exubera, in September 2006. People who had type 1 or type 2 diabetes could use it.

But the drug's maker took it off the market in October 2007, because it didn't seem to catch on with patients. People thought the inhaler was too big and clunky. (The Afrezza inhaler is much smaller.) Later, the FDA was concerned that Exubera might cause lung problems including cancer.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Michael Dansinger, MD on September 30, 2014
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If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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