Brittle diabetes is a type of diabetes that is hard to control. Also known as liable diabetes is characterized by unstable blood glucose levels, often ranging from very high (hyperglycemic) to very low (Hypoglycemic).

Brittle diabetes is associated with type 1 diabetes. It is not a different type of diabetes; it only has more complications when compared with type 1 diabetes. It is a rare condition affecting about 3 out of 1000 insulin-dependent patients. Here is a peek at what causes brittle diabetes, its symptoms, and how it can be treated.

What Causes Brittle Diabetes?

Brittle diabetes occurs when it becomes hard to control diabetes. Regular diabetes can be hard to control because of either the following reasons:

  • Alcohol or drug use
  • Celiac disease (this is an autoimmune disease that affects the intestines)
  • Eating disorders
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Psychological issues, including anxiety, depression, and stress
  • Hormonal imbalances like hypothyroidism and adrenal insufficiencies
  • Gastroparesis (a nerve condition that affects how the stomach empties food)

What Are the Symptoms of Brittle Diabetes?

Sudden changes in blood sugar levels characterize brittle diabetes. A patient could swing from hypoglycemia to hyperglycemia for no reason.

Hypoglycemia symptoms include:

  • Fast heart rate
  • Weakness, dizziness, or shaking
  • Confusion or irritability
  • Pale skin
  • Sweating
  • Restless sleep
  • Sudden hunger

Hyperglycemia symptoms include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Blurry vision
  • Frequent urination
  • Slow-healing cut or regular skin infections
  • Hunger or thirst

It is important to note if hyperglycemia goes untreated, it results in diabetes-related ketoacidosis (DKA), a fatal condition that can lead to:

  • Dehydration
  • Confusion
  • Dehydration
  • Trouble breathing
  • Fruity smelling breath
  • Vomiting
  • Coma

Who Is At Risk Of Getting Brittle Diabetes?

Brittle diabetes often occurs in people with Type 1 diabetes. Its main cause is not fully understood but is more common in women in their 20s and 30s.

How Is Brittle Diabetes Diagnosed?

Brittle diabetes is diagnosed after frequent episodes of hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia that lead to hospitalization. An endocrinologist can diagnose brittle diabetes after reviewing a patient’s blood sugar levels over a specified time.

How Is Brittle Diabetes Treated?

Brittle diabetes will often disrupt your life since you cannot do much with high and low blood sugar levels. You will also find that hospitalization is common, making it hard for you to work on your daily tasks.

If left untreated, it can be fatal. To treat it, your doctor must first regulate your blood sugar levels. Various treatment and technology options are currently available to help you manage your insulin levels. Some include:

  • A continuous glucose monitor: This measures the glucose levels in your blood in intervals via sensors placed under the skin. It comes with a monitor often clipped to the belt. It is designed to send an alarm when the sugar levels drop too high or when it’s too low.
  • Insulin pump: This machine is connected to your body throughout the day to give your steady insulin injection.
  • Pancreas transplant: With this treatment, your pancreas is replaced with a donor’s pancreas. If the transplant is successful, you will no longer be dependent on insulin medications.

Your doctor will recommend a treatment that works best for you. Once you have a working plan, here are some tips you can follow to control the condition.

  • Exercise regularly
  • Stick to your medication schedule
  • Follow a diabetes diet
  • Keep in touch with your diabetes team for emotional and medical support

What Is The Life Expectancy Of Brittle Diabetes?

If you do not control your blood sugar levels, you may likely have the following complications:

  • Problems with pregnancy
  • Low quality of life
  • Complications with your eyes, heart, kidneys, and nerves
  • A short life expectancy

How Can Patients With Brittle Diabetes Take Care Of Themselves?

While you will still need to manage your blood sugar levels with insulin. You can improve your quality of life with the following steps:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat a healthy low, sugar diet
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Take your medication as prescribed
  • Test your blood sugar levels regularly
  • Track any problems you might have with your blood sugar levels

It is important to note that brittle diabetes can be hard to manage. The frequent and sudden changes in blood sugar levels can affect your quality of life. Make sure you talk to your doctor if you have trouble managing your glucose levels.

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