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Side Effects of Inhaled Insulin

Common side effects of inhaled insulin include low blood sugar, respiratory tract infections, and coughing. Most people, however, tolerate it well -- any side effects are typically minor and easily treated. If you experience more serious inhaled insulin side effects, such as symptoms of high or low blood sugar, painful breathing, or signs of an allergic reaction, you should immediately report them to your healthcare provider.

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.


Side Effects of Inhaled Insulin: An Introduction

As with any medicine, side effects are possible with inhaled insulin (Exubera®). However, not everyone who takes the drug will experience side effects. In fact, most people tolerate it 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.
(This article covers many, but not all, of the possible side effects with inhaled insulin. Your healthcare provider can discuss a more complete list of inhaled insulin side effects with you.)

Common Side Effects of Inhaled Insulin

Inhaled insulin has been studied thoroughly in clinical trials, with many people having been evaluated. In these studies, the side effects occurring in a group of people taking the drug are documented and compared to the side effects that occur in a similar group of people not taking the medicine. As a result, it is possible to see what side effects occur, how often they appear, and how they compare to the group not taking the medicine.
Based on these studies, the most common side effects of inhaled insulin include:
  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) -- this is the most common side effect (but the actual percentages were not reported)
  • Respiratory tract infections (such as the common cold) -- occurring in up to 43.3 percent of people
  • Coughing -- in up to 29.5 percent
  • Irritated or sore throat -- in up to 18.2 percent
  • Irritated or runny nose -- in up to 14.5 percent
  • Sinus infection or irritation -- in up to 10.3 percent
  • Bronchitis -- in up to 5.4 percent
  • Chest pain -- in up to 4.7 percent
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath -- in up to 4.4 percent.
Other common side effects (occurring in 1 to 4 percent of people) include:
  • Increased sputum (increased mucus from the lungs)
  • Dry mouth
  • Asthma
  • Bloody nose
  • Laryngitis (irritation of the voice box)
  • Voice changes.
7 Signs of High Blood Sugar

Inhaled Insulin (Exubera)

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