Also known as labile diabetes, brittle diabetes refers to type 1 diabetes, which is hard to control. Patients suffering from brittle diabetes experience frequent and huge swings in their blood sugar levels. They move from hyperglycemia to hypoglycemia and vice-versa quickly. This is what makes difficult for them to take the required actions in order to control the spiked level of blood sugar. Unlike normal diabetes, brittle diabetes is deadly and affects your daily lives significantly. Sudden and frequent shifts in blood sugar make you susceptible to severe ketoacidosis.
A person with brittle diabetes experiences symptoms of both high and low blood sugar levels. During hyperglycemia (too high blood sugar level), the person goes through increased hunger, urination, blurry vision, nausea, vomiting, etc. However, during hypoglycemia (too low blood sugar level), he experiences confusion, dizziness, lack of energy, headaches, increased heartbeat, etc.
Causes of Brittle Diabetes
“Only around three out of 1000 insulin-dependent people suffer from brittle diabetes”, says the National Institutes of Health. Though it is not age-specific, brittle diabetes mostly affects women and that too those who are obese. Also, young adults with diabetes (those between the ages 15 and 30) remain at increased risk of developing brittle diabetes. Having type 1 diabetes and being stressed or depressed also increase your risk of developing brittle diabetes. Stress has already been associated with insulin resistance and that is what leads to sudden swings in levels of glucose. Moreover, some other factors including Celiac disease, eating disorders, nerve damage, hypothyroidism, adrenal insufficiency, etc. also increase your risk of developing brittle diabetes.
Diagnosis And Treatment For Brittle Diabetes
The diagnosis of brittle diabetes is not easy. It is usually confirmed after pairing its symptoms with psychological issues if any. Usually, people with brittle diabetes are more stressed and depressed than those with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. And, as a result of that, they stop maintaining a healthy diet and experience metabolic imbalances. These are the factors that help in confirming the disease.
As far as the treatment of brittle diabetes is concerned, you can only manage it and cannot cure it. But managing it also is quite tricky. In this case, you continuously need to monitor your blood glucose level. You can do so with the help of a subcutaneous insulin pump. It remains attached to your body throughout the day and keeps your insulin level steady which further helps in keeping blood sugar level right. In severe cases, you may need a pancreas transplant.