Inhaled insulin can help lower blood sugar levels in people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. It comes in powder form and is inhaled through the mouth, providing insulin for the body to help remove blood sugar. The dosage that you are prescribed will depend on the type of diabetes you have, whether you have other medical conditions, and if you are taking other medications.
What Is Inhaled Insulin?Inhaled insulin (Exubera®) is a prescription medication licensed to treat both type 1 and type 2 diabetes in adults. Unlike other forms of insulin, which need to be injected, inhaled insulin is inhaled into the lungs through the mouth. This is a short-acting (rapid-acting) insulin that is used before meals. Inhaled insulin will not replace long-acting insulin.
Note: In October 2007, Pfizer announced it will stop making inhaled insulin. This decision was voluntary and was not based on any safety concern; Pfizer states that their inhaled insulin product (Exubera) has not met its expectations in terms of sales. Starting in October 2007, it will be available for an additional three months, which will give people enough time to change from inhaled insulin to another type of insulin or other diabetes medication.
(Click What Is Inhaled Insulin Used For? for more information, including possible off-label uses for the drug.)
Side EffectsAs with any medicine, side effects are possible with inhaled insulin. However, not everyone who takes it will have problems. In fact, most people tolerate the medication quite well. If side effects do occur, in most cases, they are minor and either require no treatment or can be easily treated by you or your healthcare provider. Serious side effects are less common.
The most common side effects of inhaled insulin include:
- Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) (see Exubera and Blood Sugar)
- Respiratory tract infections, such as the common cold
- Runny or irritated nose
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.
(Click Side Effects of Inhaled Insulin to learn more, including potentially serious side effects to look out for.)