SACRAMENTO, CA -- Tim Williams was just 19 years old when he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Thirty-eight years later, he has begun a new medical regimen – inhalable insulin -- a drug doctors are so excited about, we felt we had to share this information with you.
“As a type-one diabetic, for no reason at all, your blood sugar goes up like crazy,” Williams explained.
According to the The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Health Information Center, diabetes affects about 30.3 million Americans or about 9.4 percent of the U.S. population. It’s also estimated that 1 in every 4 persons with diabetes, or 7.2 million Americans are unaware that they have the disease.
Williams is very active. He cycles, hikes, skis and scuba dives. When he was diagnosed with diabetes, he opted to continue to live his life as normal as possible.
To help regulate his insulin levels, he was giving himself up to 6 shots of insulin a day.
“What I did for 20 years – I was on two types of insulin and a syringe,” Williams said.
After two decades of insulin shots, he moved to a pump.
“You fill a reservoir full of insulin, and move it every two days," Williams explained. "With an insulin pump you have it connected to your belt, and in your pocket, you have a tube that catches on door handles and rips out, it’s very frustrating.”
An insulin pump needs to be moved on the body every few days, which often created a spike in Williams’ levels.
“I was going bike riding, scuba lessons, skiing, and I have runaway blood sugar level when I didn’t need them,” said Williams.
That’s when Williams discovered the latest medical advancement for type one diabetes patients: inhalable insulin: Afrezza.
Afrezza is similar to an asthma inhaler, and it is the only inhalable insulin product on the market right now, according to Dr. Jaiwant Rangi, an endocrinologist from Cameron Park, Calif.
“It really is a game changer,” Dr. Rangi said.
Dr. Rangi said Afrezza can be used by type 1 and type 2 diabetes patients. It is a fast-acting insulin, so diabetes patients still need to take their long-lasting insulin at night, but this product helps to better regulate insulin throughout the day.
“Usually people have three meals a day, so you take Afrezza right before you eat. It peaks in the system without about 12 minutes and that’s how our pancreas works as well. So we are trying to mimic what our body does,” Dr. Rangi said.
Dr. Rangi said In the past another version of inhalable insulin was on the market, but it didn’t last. She said Afrezza is different not only in the design, but also in how it works.
Dr. Rangi said she has seen significant changes in her patients who use Afrezza.
“Absolutely – it’s quality of life and also less fluctuations. They have a better glycemic control they have less fluctuations over the day -- those fluctuations lead to more irritability more mood changes, hunger weight gain,” said Dr. Rangi.
For Tim Williams, the little device represents a world of freedom.
“That very first day was liberating. I have no connection to a tube. When you’re out in public you’re not looking for an injection site. It’s far more comfortable; a lot more freedom,” Williams said.
Dr. Rangi said there are patients who inhalable insulin would not work for. Afrezza is currently not available for children under 18, but research is being done to get approval for kids. Those with COPD or any lung condition would not qualify for this medical device.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Health Information Center reports, if you have a family history of diabetes, you have a greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes. You are also more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if you are over age 45, are overweight, or are not physically active. Talk to your doctor about your medical history and your family's history, as well.