What Is Inhaled Insulin Used For?
What is inhaled insulin used for? The drug helps control blood sugar levels in adults with type 1 or type 2 diabetes after meals. In time, high blood sugar can cause several problems, such as kidney failure, heart disease, and diabetic impotence. Use of the drug can help to decrease the chances of developing these problems. At this time, there are no off-label uses that inhaled insulin is used for.
What Is Inhaled Insulin Used For? -- An OverviewInhaled 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. It is a short-acting (rapid-acting) insulin that is used before meals. The drug is not designed to 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.
Why Is Inhaled Insulin Used for Type 1 Diabetes?Type 1 diabetes usually begins in young children and teenagers. People with this type of diabetes have a pancreas that doesn't produce enough insulin -- or it stops producing it altogether. This means that these people need to have insulin on a regular basis to help keep their blood sugar at the right level.
Currently, using a combination of different types of insulins is recommended for many people with type 1 diabetes. Often, a long-acting insulin is used to mimic the baseline level that the pancreas would produce all of the time. A short-acting insulin is then added to handle the rise in blood sugar that happens after meals. Intermediate-acting insulins and combination insulins are also available.
Inhaled insulin acts like a rapid-acting insulin because it begins to work within 10 minutes (much faster than regular insulin). However, inhaled insulin lasts just as long as regular insulin (longer than rapid-acting insulin).
For people with type 1 diabetes, inhaled insulin is used just before meals to help control blood sugar afterwards. Because it is short-acting, it cannot be used to replace long-acting insulin. As with any insulin, you will need to continue testing your blood sugar, and you may even need to test it more often when first starting the drug.