How Diabetes Affects Your Lungs


Amy Stachnik-Rushlow

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Lung X-ray

Your feet. Your heart. Your kidneys. When you think of the body parts affected by diabetes, these are the ones that likely come to mind. But diabetes also affects another part of your body. And it’s one you use every second of your life: your lungs. If you have diabetes, you are more likely to have certain lung conditions. Diabetes also has an impact on lung function, or how well you breathe.

After you receive a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, your doctor will work with you to determine the best method of treatment, be it medication or insulin injections. But, as Dr. Anthony Cardillo explains, the most effective treatment for type 2 diabetes? Proper diet and exercise.

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Aug 13, 2015

What is Toujeo® (insulin glargine injection) 300 Units/mL?

Prescription Toujeo® is a long-acting insulin used to control blood sugar in adults with diabetes mellitus.
• Toujeo® contains 3 times as much insulin in 1 mL as standard insulin (100 Units/mL)
• Toujeo® is not for use to treat diabetic ketoacidosis
• Toujeo® should not be used in children

Important Safety Information for Toujeo® (insulin glargine injection) 300 Units/mL

Do not take Toujeo® if you have low blood sugar or if you are allergic to insulin or any of the ingredients in Toujeo®.

Do NOT reuse needles or share insulin pens even if the needle has been changed.

Before starting Toujeo®, tell your doctor about all your medical conditions, including if you have liver or kidney problems, if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant or if you are breastfeeding or planning to breastfeed.

Heart failure can occur if you are taking insulin together with certain medicines called TZDs (thiazolidinediones), even if you have never had heart failure or other heart problems. If you have heart failure, it may get worse while you take TZDs with Toujeo®. Your treatment with TZDs and Toujeo® may need to be changed or stopped by your doctor if you have new or worsening heart failure. Tell your doctor if you have any new or worsening symptoms of heart failure, including:
• Shortness of breath
• Swelling of your ankles or feet
• Sudden weight gain

Tell your doctor about all medications you take, including OTC medicines, vitamins, and supplements, including herbal supplements.

Toujeo® should be taken at the same time once a day. Test your blood sugar levels daily while using insulin, including Toujeo®. Do not make changes to your dose or type of insulin without talking to your doctor. Verify you have the correct insulin before each injection. Your dose for Toujeo® may be different from other insulins you have taken. Any change of insulin should be made cautiously and only under medical supervision.

Do NOT dilute or mix Toujeo® with any other insulin or solution. It will not work as intended and you may lose blood sugar control, which could be serious. Use Toujeo® only if the solution is clear and colorless with no particles visible.

Toujeo® (insulin glargine injection) 300 Units/mL

While using Toujeo®, do not drive or operate heavy machinery until you know how Toujeo® affects you. Don’t drink alcohol or use other medicines that contain alcohol.

The most common side effect of any insulin, including Toujeo®, is low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), which may be serious and can be lifethreatening. Severe hypoglycemia may cause harm to your heart or brain. Symptoms of serious low blood sugar may include shaking, sweating, fast heartbeat, and blurred vision.

Toujeo® may cause serious side effects that can lead to death, such as severe allergic reactions. Get medical help right away if you have:
• A rash over your whole body
• Shortness of breath
• Swelling of your face, tongue, or throat
• Extreme drowsiness, dizziness, or confusion
• Trouble breathing
• Fast heartbeat
• Sweating

Toujeo® may have additional side effects including swelling, weight gain, low potassium, and injection site reactions which may include change in fat tissue, skin thickening, redness, swelling, and itching.

Toujeo® SoloStar® is a disposable prefilled insulin pen. Talk to your doctor about proper injection technique and follow instructions in the Instruction Leaflet that comes with the pen.

Please see link below for Full Prescribing Information for Toujeo®

Prescribing Information | Important Safety Information
© 2002-2015 sanofi-aventis U.S. LLC. All rights reserved. | US.GLT.15.07.042

Lung Conditions

A study published in Diabetes Care compared the health records of more than 1.8 million California residents with and without diabetes. The research found that adults with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes are:

  • 8% more likely to have asthma

  • 22% more likely to have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

  • 54% more likely to have pulmonary fibrosis, a disease in which scarring in the lungs interferes with your ability to breathe

  • Nearly twice as likely to have been hospitalized for pneumonia

Lung Function

If you have type 2 diabetes, you have decreased lung function compared with people who don’t have diabetes. Lung function is a measure of how well you’re breathing. It also refers to how well your lungs deliver oxygen to your body. If you have type 2 diabetes, you tend to have 3% to 10% lower lung volumes than adults who do not have the disease.

Generally, reduced lung function won’t interfere with your daily life. However, it could cause issues if you are obese, smoke, or have lung disease. Poor lung function can also be a problem if you have heart failure or kidney failure, two diabetes complications.

Having diabetes doesn’t necessarily mean you have bad lung function. Some studies show that lung function gets worse as blood glucose levels increase. The longer you’ve lived with diabetes, the worse your lung function may be.

In some studies, people who developed diabetes had low lung function to begin with. This has led some experts to wonder if poor lung health might contribute to diabetes. However, this idea hasn’t been proven.

Why Diabetes Hurts Your Lung Function

Scientists aren’t sure exactly why diabetes and lung function are related. Some experts say inflammation is to blame. Diabetes may cause inflammation in your body. If you have diabetes, you have higher levels of inflammatory compounds, such as C-reactive protein. A study in Diabetes Care found that high markers of inflammation were linked to low lung function.

Obesity also may be part of the explanation. In the same Diabetes Care study, obese people had lower lung function and higher rates of diabetes versus healthy-weight people. Obesity-related inflammation may be the cause, says a study in the journal Lung.

A Note About Smoking

If you have diabetes, smoking harms more than your lungs. Smoking also increases your risk for serious complications, such as poor blood flow, nerve damage, blindness, kidney disease, and heart disease.

Quitting smoking will improve your blood glucose levels and insulin resistance. Make a plan to quit: Set a date and let your family and friends know that you’re quitting. You can either go cold turkey or taper off—whatever works for you. Nicotine patches, nicotine gum, or prescription medication from your health care provider can help.

Key Takeaways

  • If you have diabetes, you are more likely to have lung conditions such as COPD and pulmonary fibrosis.

  • Diabetes also has an impact on lung function, or how well you breathe.

  • Some studies show that lung function gets worse as blood glucose levels increase. The longer you’ve lived with diabetes, the worse your lung function may be.

  • Scientists aren’t sure why diabetes and lung function are related. Inflammation in your body may be to blame. Obesity may play a role as well.

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Medical Reviewers: Williams, Robert, MD Last Review Date: Dec 2, 2013

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View Sources

Medical References

  1. Obesity in Adults Is Associated with Reduced Lung Function in Metabolic Syndrome and Diabetes. Yeh, F., et al. Diabetes Care. 2011;34(10):2306-13.;
  2. Patients Diagnosed with Diabetes Are at Increased Risk for Asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Pulmonary Fibrosis, and Pneumonia, but Not Lung Cancer. Ehrlich, S.F., et al. Diabetes Care. 2010;33(1):55-60.;
  3. Systematic Review of the Association Between Lung Function and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. O.L. Klein, O.L., et al. Diabetic Medicine.2010; 27(9):977-87.;
  4. Smoking and Diabetes. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013. (;
  5. Smoking. American Diabetes Association, 2013. (; Pulmonary Fibrosis. American Lung Association, 2013. (;
  6. Diabetes, Impaired Glucose Tolerance, and Metabolic Biomarkers in Individuals with Normal Glucose Tolerance Are Inversely Associated with Lung Function: The Jackson Heart Study. Hickson, D.A., et al. Lung. 2011;189(4):311-21. (;
  7. What Are Lung Function Tests? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, 2013. (;
  8. Diabetes Complications. U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, 2013. (;

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