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Precautions and Warnings With Inhaled Insulin

Specific Precautions and Warnings With Inhaled Insulin

Warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to taking inhaled insulin include the following:


  • In studies, people who took inhaled insulin had an increased risk of lung cancer. However, it is not entirely clear if the inhaled insulin was to blame. All of the people in the studies who developed lung cancer had a previous history of cigarette smoking.


  • Inhaled insulin works faster than regular insulin. Make sure to begin eating within 10 minutes after taking the medication.


  • The drug can cause low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) in some people. This is more common in elderly people and in people with adrenal, pituitary, liver, or kidney problems, as well as during fasting before surgery and after prolonged exercise. Symptoms of low blood sugar may include irritability, trembling, cold sweats, or blurry vision, among other things.
  • Fever, infections, injury, or surgery can temporarily increase blood sugar, even in people with well-controlled diabetes. Contact your healthcare provider if you have a fever, infection, injury, or will be having surgery. Also, make sure you know the symptoms of high blood sugar and how to check your blood sugar levels.
  • Careful monitoring of blood sugar is necessary any time diabetes drugs are changed, and it is recommended for all people taking inhaled insulin.
  • The drug is not recommended for people with lung problems, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Your lung function should be checked before starting inhaled insulin, since it can have a negative effect on lung function. In addition, your healthcare provider should monitor your lungs periodically during treatment to make sure inhaled insulin is not causing lung problems.
  • Inhaled insulin does not need to be stopped in people with respiratory infections (such as the common cold). However, close monitoring is recommended in these situations.
  • The medication has not been studied in people with liver or kidney problems. Your inhaled insulin dosage may need to be adjusted if you have liver or kidney problems.
  • As with all insulins, inhaled insulin can cause allergic reactions, including wheezing or difficulty breathing. Be sure to tell your healthcare provider if you are having an allergic reaction.
  • Inhaled insulin is considered a pregnancy Category C medication. This means that the full risks of using it during pregnancy are not known. Talk to your healthcare provider before taking the drug while pregnant (see Exubera and Pregnancy).
  • Inhaled insulin passes through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start, discuss this with your healthcare provider.
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