Brittle diabetes is known as labile diabetes or unstable diabetes. Persons with this diabetes type have rapid swings in their blood sugars from the extreme highs to the extreme lows. It is very complicated for a doctor to treat, and most people that have brittle diabetes see an endocrinologist. This is a doctor who specializes in the treatment of complex diabetes problems along with other endocrine disorders.
Why do some type 1 diabetics have brittle diabetes? Let's take a look now at some of these reasons why this might happen.
1. The person with type 1 diabetes may have some thyroid problems such as hypothyroidism. Hypothtyroidism is an underactive thyroid that can cause other problems, interfering with stable blood sugar control. Thyroid medications can be given to correct the underlying medical problem.
2. Addison Disease is an adrenal problem that is sometimes common in type 1 diabetics. There are drugs that help the adrenal glands to work better, and this may solve the problem with rapid glucose swings.
3. Delayed stomach emptying, (gastroparesis) is a common problem that causes brittle diabetes. Since the stomach doesn't digest and empty food properly, this causes a great instability in blood sugar numbers. Doctors can give medications that will help the stomach to digest foods better such as Compazine or other such drugs that work on the stomach digestion.
4. People that are under more stress than normal and also living with type 1 diabetes may experience erratic blood sugar control day and night. It is important to eliminate all stresses possible and a doctor may give tranquilizers and anti-depressants in order to stabilize the diabetic person's mental health so that the blood sugar does not have huge swings.
People that have labile diabetes are those in the age group between 15-35. This is the category of where it seems to happen most, although that doesn't mean people younger or older can't experience the same problem.
Now as far as treating the brittle diabetes situation is concerned, there are sometimes points where hospitalization is required in order to get on the right diabetes management program. The learning of an insulin pump is many times the best solution for a person in this situation having brittle diabetes. The pump also saves time with giving multiple injections daily. I have had friends that after being placed on a pump due to their erratic blood sugar control, and once on a pump, they have stabilized and done very nicely.
If the underlying problem for the brittle diabetes is due mostly to mental health factors, there are support groups, counseling to work out the problems, and as I mentioned earlier, tranquilizers and anti-depressants to help.
People that have a tendency toward brittle diabetes without an exact known cause should always wear a medic-alert bracelet, and carry glucose tabs if they start feeling low along with glucagon. These people should monitor more than the normal 4-5 times a day. Most doctors suggest up to 10 times a day and then once or twice during at night. Doctors might even suggest a continuous glucose monitor which is even better if a person is totally unstable for reasons not mentioned here. In fact, sometimes, it is just the body chemistry for reasons doctor's cannot figure out, and remains a mystery.