Living with diabetes can be a challenge, as it requires those affected to constantly be aware of what they are eating and how it will affect their blood sugar levels. A lot of diabetic patients are required to take insulin injections to manage their disease, making sure they take the right amount at the right time. Too much insulin will lead to severe low blood sugar called hypoglycemia—a condition that may lead to a loss of consciousness.
A new form of treatment delivery has been developed to help these diabetic patients, and it comes in the form of an inhaled powder. This powder allows for easy reversal of the dangerous effects of hypoglycemia.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 300,000 people seek professional medical help each year due to severe cases of low blood sugar.
Effects of hypoglycemia
Low blood sugar levels can occur in anybody but are most concerning in diabetic patients. Hypoglycemia is not a disease, but rather an indicator of a health problem. In most people, low blood sugar can be easily remedied by eating high-sugar foods that replenish energy stores. However, this process is far more complicated in diabetic patients owing to their impaired insulin metabolism.
Similar to how a car needs gas, your body needs sugar (glucose) to function. When the bodies glucose levels become too low, symptoms of hypoglycemia will develop. They include:
- Heart palpitations
- Blurred vision
- Loss of consciousness
Making it easier to treat a potentially fatal condition
The inhaled powder aims to make treating hypoglycemia as quick and pain-free as possible. It contains the hormone glucagon, which tells your body to release stored sugar.
“Family members can be terrified to use the injectable form. But 95 percent of caregivers found nasal glucagon very easy to use,” said study leader Dr. Elizabeth Seaquist.
The device looks like a common nasal steroid inhaler, only smaller. It is easily used by the patient or caregiver—all they have to do is push the button on the bottom on the canister. Glucagon is then released into the nostril, where it’s absorbed into the bloodstream. It can be administered even when someone is unconscious. The patient doesn’t need to breathe or inhale to benefit from the treatment.
The study conducted by Dr. Seaquist and her colleagues found that this new delivery system helped alleviate 96 percent of hypoglycemic episodes, bringing glucose levels back to normal within 30 minutes.
While the product does not have a name as of yet, the researchers hope to bring this nasal powder to the market soon. They first have to get FDA approval.