What alternatives to insulin injections exist for type 1 diabetes?

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Along with lifestyle modifications, medical treatment is essential to the management of type 1 diabetes. While not a cure, insulin is the most powerful glucose-lowering agent available. Insulin therapies administered two times or more per day through injections or pump therapy can stabilize and manage the disease, helping delay or avoid complications.

Most insulin is still primarily administered as an injection, using a small short needle. At this point, insulin can't be delivered in a pill, because it is a protein; your body would break it down and digest it before it could get into your bloodstream. However, investigators are exploring ways of making insulin easier to take, including insulin pills with a special coating or altered structure to get it through the stomach (not much research has been done on insulin pills at this point, though), skin patches, insulin that is delivered as a spray into the back of the mouth and inhaler devices.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also approved insulin jet injectors, which look like large pens and send a fine spray of insulin through the skin by a high-pressure air mechanism. Insulin jet injectors are costly and have other downsides so they are not widely used. If you plan to purchase one, try out several models before you buy.

Continue Learning about Diabetes

Diabetes

Diabetes mellitus (MEL-ih-tus), often referred to as diabetes, is characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels that result from the body’s inability to produce enough insulin and/or effectively utilize the insulin. Diabetes ...

is a serious, life-long condition and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Diabetes is a disorder of metabolism (the body's way of digesting food and converting it into energy). There are three forms of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that accounts for five- to 10-percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes may account for 90- to 95-percent of all diagnosed cases. The third type of diabetes occurs in pregnancy and is referred to as gestational diabetes. Left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause health issues for pregnant women and their babies. People with diabetes can take preventive steps to control this disease and decrease the risk of further complications.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.