Researchers investigate insulin nasal spray as a form of treatment for type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is often referred to as juvenile diabetes because individuals are typically diagnosed with the chronic condition when they are children or adolescents. However, in rare cases, adults can develop type 1 diabetes even after they are considered to be senior citizens.

In people with type 1 diabetes, the body attacks its own insulin-producing beta cells, which ultimately creates a lack of the hormone and leaves no way for sugar molecules to be removed from the blood and transported to other tissues where they need to be converted into energy.

While researchers understand the physiological mechanisms behind type 1 diabetes, they are unsure of exactly why the autoimmune disorder occurs.

A recent article published by cited a study that appeared in the journal Diabetes, which determined that early administration of insulin through a nasal spray may have potential benefits as a method of delaying or treating type 1 diabetes in the future.

The news provider reported that the research involved a group of adults between the ages of 39 and 75 who had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes within the previous year. Some of the participants were given the insulin nasal spray, while the rest received a placebo treatment, which they were instructed to use for 24 months.

While the study's results showed that subjects in both groups lost insulin-producing cells at the same rate, they indicated that individuals who used the nasal spray had fewer insulin autoantibodies, which target and destroy the beta cells, the news source explained.

The researchers said that their findings may provide hope that this nasal spray treatment can be used in the future to slow the progression of type 1 diabetes in children who are at high risk for developing the condition. However, more extensive studies will need to be conducted before the insulin spray is determined to be safe and effective, the news organization noted.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) explains that individuals with type 1 diabetes account for only five percent of the more than 25 million people in the U.S. who have diabetes.

Since young people who develop the condition early in life are insulin-dependent, some find that it is useful to have an insulin pump, which administers a constant flow of the hormone, as opposed to multiple injections throughout the day.

The ADA says that it is important for parents of children with type 1 diabetes to ensure that they have access to the care they need while in school. For example, it is illegal for non-nurse school employees in California to administer insulin injections, which may be worrisome for parents whose kids experience instances of very high blood sugar levels - or hyperglycemia.

It is important for children to have all of the supplies they need for diabetes management at school. Caregivers should keep in mind that students can be physically active throughout the school day, which can cause changes in blood glucose levels. Therefore, it may be a good idea to pack extra snacks and ensure that teachers store insulin or other diabetes medications within the classroom, the ADA suggests.