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Health

Insulin inhalers: Possible breakthrough for diabetics

inhaler
Researchers say it may be three years before the insulin inhaler is ready to be prescribed  

From Medical Correspondent Dr. Steve Salvatore

June 16, 1998
Web posted at: 10:33 p.m. EDT (0233 GMT)

(CNN) -- A new insulin delivery system could offer a breakthrough in managing diabetes by allowing patients to inhale instead of inject the hormone.

People with Type 1 diabetes often must have insulin injections two or three times a day. Those patients fail to produce insulin, a hormone essential to proper energy production. They must inject it before each meal so their bodies can process sugar.

Type 2 diabetes -- a more common and milder form of the disease -- does not always require insulin shots.

In two studies presented before the American Diabetes Association, inhaled insulin was comparable to injected insulin when the goal was glucose control.

Researchers estimate it could take at least three more years of testing before doctors could start prescribing the new insulin inhalers.

Meanwhile, doctors say it's very important for diabetics to manage their disease properly either with injectable insulin, proper diet or both.

If it is poorly managed, diabetes can lead to blindness, kidney and heart disease and even amputation of the extremities, such as the feet.

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