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In a small study conducted by researchers in the Netherlands, a drug normally used to treat asthma and bronchitis helped to improve awareness of hypoglycemia in people with type 1 diabetes. Hypoglycemia unawareness can be a dangerous condition—a person with diabetes who cannot detect an episode of low blood glucose cannot take quick action to correct it.
The drug, called theophylline, improved adrenaline response and decreased blood flow in the brain, resulting in stronger responses to and earlier awareness of decreasing glucose levels, according to the study, which was published in the March 2002 issue of Diabetes.
The adrenal glands of the group that received theophylline responded "significantly" more than those of the control group. The theophylline group also began to sweat more at higher blood-glucose levels and exhibited less blood flow in the brain—factors that help subjects to be aware of low blood glucose, note the researchers.
Researchers conclude that the drug improved both counter-regulatory responses and detection of low blood glucose in people with diabetes and impaired hypoglycemia awareness.
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