Skip to content

    Diabetes Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Study: Inhaler as Effective as Injections


    WebMD Health News

    Feb. 1, 2001 -- People with diabetes who must inject insulin throughout the day to keep their blood sugar levels in check may breathe a sigh of relief when they hear results of a new study.

    Researchers say an inhaler device containing insulin in powder form is as effective as an insulin injection. That means people who need to take insulin before meals may soon be able to easily inhale it instead of giving themselves painful and inconvenient shots.

    "This really represents the first practical way of avoiding the injections and getting insulin in[to the body,] and that's very important," says Jay S. Skyler, MD, author of the study that appears in the Feb. 3 issue of The Lancet.

    Skyler expects being able to get your insulin from an inhaler instead of having to give yourself a shot will make many aspects of daily life easier for diabetics. Everyone in this study had type 1 diabetes, in which the body makes virtually no insulin on its own.

    When the insulin powder is put into the inhaler, it is transformed into a cloud of vapor. The diabetic person then inhales once or twice and the insulin travels into the lungs. From there it passes quickly into the bloodstream.

    Although the study can be considered good news, some researchers are concerned that the long-term consequences of inhaling insulin into your lungs are unknown, says David Bell, MD. Because insulin is a growth factor, there is a potential for it to cause changes or growths in the lungs.

    But Skyler says his study found no changes in the lungs of anyone using the inhaled insulin and feels confident that the fear is groundless. He says some people have been on the inhaled insulin for as long as four years with no problems.

    Still, Bell, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, says another question is why inhaled insulin is even necessary, since insulin pens are available that make it much easier than ever before to inject insulin more quickly and less painfully than with a standard syringe. In fact, Bell says the most painful part of diabetes therapy is having to stick your finger several times a day to check your blood glucose levels.

    Today on WebMD

    Diabetic tools
    Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more.
    woman flexing muscles
    10 strength training exercises.
     
    Blood sugar test
    12 practical tips.
    Tom Hanks
    Stars living with type 1 or type 2.
     
    kenneth fujioka, md
    Video
    Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
    Article
     
    Middle aged person
    Tool
    jennie brand miller
    Video
     

    Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
    Article
    type 2 diabetes
    Slideshow
     
    food fitness planner
    Tool
    feet
    Slideshow