What does a brittle diabetic mean?

What is a brittle diabetic?

Brittle diabetics (also sometimes called labile or unstable) are those whose blood sugar swings wildly and unpredictably between high and low. They are, as Dr. Russell Poucher, a leading diabetologist of Orange County, California, puts it, "on the endocrine yo-yo.

The term does not apply to diabetics who have a lot of high and low blood sugar because they're doing a bad job of managing their diabetes but who try to excuse it by calling themselves brittle. True brittle diabetics are doing everything right, yet still their blood sugar plunges and soars for no apparent reason. The excruciating frustration and stress of this situation cause further detrimental effects on control.

For a long time it seemed that these diabetics were doomed forever to be victims of the vagaries of their blood sugar. Now, however, brittle diabetics can often be stabilized with a system of tight blood sugar control using home blood sugar monitoring and multiple injections of insulin, or with the use of the infusion pump.


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