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A recent study suggests that insulin can maintain its effectiveness for several months when stored at room temperature, providing potential relief for individuals with diabetes who reside in areas with limited healthcare resources or electricity.
Researchers state that the results could have an impact on a large population residing in low and middle-income nations, specifically those residing in rural regions. This also includes individuals whose lives have been affected by conflict or natural calamities.
Individuals with diabetes are unable to produce sufficient amounts of insulin. Those with type 1 diabetes must administer insulin multiple times throughout the day, usually before each meal.
The hormone aids in converting food into energy and regulating blood sugar levels. It is a necessary medication for individuals with the condition.
Diabetes UK recommends storing unused insulin in the refrigerator, as it should be kept at temperatures below 25C.
The recommended storage temperature is between 2C and 6C, but for insulin that is being used on the same day, room temperature is typically acceptable.
Based on a recent review, it is now acceptable to keep unopened vials and cartridges of certain types of human insulin at temperatures up to 25C for six months and up to 37C for two months without any noticeable decrease in insulin effectiveness.
The results of one of the studies examined revealed that there was no decrease in the effectiveness of certain types of insulin when stored in varying temperatures between 25C and 37C for a period of three months.
According to researchers, this variation is similar to the temperature changes observed in tropical countries during day and night.
For individuals with diabetes residing in developing nations and areas affected by conflict, access to electricity and refrigeration is often limited.
Dr. Bernd Richter, a professor at Heinrich Heine University, emphasized the importance of this study, especially for individuals with type 1 diabetes.
He stated that although type 2 diabetes can be difficult to manage, type 1 diabetes requires insulin in order for the individual to survive.
This highlights the importance of providing clear instructions for individuals with diabetes during crucial moments in life, which is often not provided by official sources.
“Our research presents opportunities for people residing in difficult conditions, where refrigeration is not readily available.”
“Through comprehension of the heat resistance of insulin and investigation of creative methods for storage, we can greatly improve the quality of life for individuals who rely on insulin for their health.”
Dr. Richter and their team at the Institute of General Practice, within the Medical Faculty of Heinrich Heine University in Germany, conducted a thorough investigation to examine the stability of insulin under different storage conditions.
The Cochrane review examined 17 different studies, which looked into the use of insulin in vials, cartridges/pens, and prefilled syringes.
The results have been published in the Cochrane database of systematic reviews.