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Inhaled Insulin

Effects

Several studies have looked at the effects of inhaled insulin on type 1 and type 2 diabetes, especially with regards to hemoglobin A1c and fasting blood glucose.
 
Hemoglobin A1c
Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) is a test used to measure long-term control of blood sugar. For people without diabetes, HbA1c results are usually less than 6 percent, while people with diabetes usually have higher levels. People with diabetes who have better control over their blood sugar have lower HbA1c levels. In one study of people with type 2 diabetes taking inhaled insulin, HbA1c levels dropped by 4 percent, while people taking oral medications for diabetes decreased their HbA1c levels by only 0.2 percent. In studies on type 1 diabetes, people taking inhaled insulin and people taking regular, injectable insulin showed similar decreases in HbA1c levels.
 
Fasting Blood Glucose
Fasting blood glucose (blood sugar levels before a meal) are another good way to evaluate diabetes medications. Inhaled insulin has been shown to lower fasting blood glucose more than oral diabetes medications (in people with type 2 diabetes) or regular injectable insulin (in people with type 1 diabetes).
 

When and How to Take Inhaled Insulin

General considerations for when and how to take the medication include the following:
 
  • Inhaled insulin comes in blister packets that contain the powder. These packets must be used in the inhaler.
     
  • Several steps are involved in using the inhaler. Your inhaler will come with detailed instructions. Make sure that your healthcare provider shows you exactly how to use it.
     
  • You will inhale the powder into your lungs by breathing it in with a normal breath and then holding your breath for five seconds.
     
  • This medication works quickly; you should take it within 10 minutes before a meal. Taking it more than 10 minutes before a meal could increase your chance of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). If you skip a meal, you should also skip that dose.
     
  • You may need to use more than one blister packet in order to get the right dose. However, three 1-mg blisters do not equal one 3-mg blister (in studies, people who used three 1-mg blisters absorbed more insulin than people who used one 3-mg blister). Unfortunately, inhaled insulin comes in packages with both 1-mg and 3-mg blisters (you cannot buy them separately at this time), and you may have extra blisters that you cannot use.
     
  • For the medication to work properly, it must be used as prescribed. It will not work if you stop using it.
     
7 Signs of High Blood Sugar

Inhaled Insulin (Exubera)

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