Inhaled insulin is the newest method of taking in insulin. Researchers have discovered how to get the insulin to the back of the nasal passages where it can be absorbed. The inhaler is short-acting insulin. Short acting insulin is normally used around a mealtime. Often is it taken 30-35 minutes before a meal, and it peaks out in two or three hours. In some individuals, it can last for up to six hours.
Intermediate-acting insulin is mixed with another material to make the body absorb the insulin slower. It stays longer in your body but it takes longer for it to take affect. Long lasting insulin will stay in your body for up to 20 hours but takes anywhere from four to ten hours before it starts. Most Type 1 diabetics will take an insulin injection of either long-acting or intermediate acting insulin in the morning, or in the evening, and take short-acting insulin injections before each meal.
Type 1 diabetics have a tough time sticking to this routine. That is many shots and can be intimidating to continue with so many shots regularly. Researchers were looking for an easier method of delivering long-acting or intermediate-acting insulin as well as short-acting insulin. They wanted to find out if inhaled insulin with the injected shots of intermediate or long-acting insulin would be successful in controlling diabetes.
Participants in the study were patients who had been taking two or more insulin shots each day for at least two months before the study began. The group was split into two groups, with one group taking intermediate-acting shots and supplemented with inhaled short-acting insulin. The other half of the group used the same shots, but injected short-acting insulin as usual before each meal. The inhaled insulin was delivered through a device that resembles an asthma inhaler. The participants of the study were taught to measure their blood levels before every meal, two hours after a meal, and before they went to bed each evening.
At the end of six months, both groups had lowered their long-term glucose control to levels that were similar. Measuring blood glucose levels after a meal showed little difference between the two groups. The difference came when blood sugar levels were measured before bedtime. The group who were using the insulin inhaler had lower blood sugar levels at bedtime.
The group who used the inhaled insulin was found to have dangerous low blood glucose levels similar to an insulin reaction more often. There were variations in the study, but that is because the patients in the study took their own blood glucose measurements and controlled the insulin they gave themselves. In addition, because this was a short study, long-term reaction of the lungs to this inhaled insulin needs to be studied.
The results show that those patients with Type 1 diabetics, who often wouldn’t take their injections before meals, would benefit from the inhaled insulin. This indeed may be the breakthrough to help those with Type 1 diabetes control their disease.