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What alternatives to insulin injections exist for type 1 diabetes?

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.

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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.