Millions of people with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes can now get some of their insulin without injections. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved an inhaled insulin medication for adults, following successful clinical trials.

Afrezza delivers rapid-acting insulin that is used to decrease after-meal blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. It uses a drug-delivery system called technosphere, where human insulin is placed into microscopic particles that are small enough to be inhaled.

Studies have shown that the inhalant may help to lower HbA1c levels, help control fasting blood glucose levels, and decrease the risk of hypoglycemia.

Afrezza is for use within 20 minutes of beginning a meal. It does not replace long-acting insulin, which must also be used in type 1 patients according to the FDA. It is not recommended for smokers, patients with chronic lung disease such as COPD or asthma, or to treat a condition called diabetic ketoacidosis.

Since Afrezza was first approved, additional studies have provided updated information about how it affects the body. The first measurable effect starts about 12 minutes after taking Afrezza. Depending on dosage strength, peak effects are seen about 35 to 45 minutes after dosing and the effects end approximately one and one-half to three hours after dosing.

The FDA has ordered additional studies to determine whether Afrezza should also be approved to treat children.

To learn more about insulin:
Know Your Insulin Options
Insulin Therapy in Early Type 2 Diabetes
Oops! Insulin Errors Unveiled