Blood sugar control is essential for staving off the negative effects diabetes can have on the body. Despite a person's best efforts, though, sometimes glucose levels can swing wildly out of control, leading to hyper- or hypoglycemia. If you're doing everything you can to keep your blood sugar in check, but your numbers just won't stabilize, you could have brittle diabetes. Here's more information about this condition.
Cause of Brittle Diabetes
Brittle diabetes is a rare subtype of Type 1 diabetes, occurring in only 2.9 per 1,000 people with Type 1. It's often described as being similar to uncontrolled Type 2 diabetes. People experience frequent, extreme swings in their blood sugar levels despite any lifestyle changes they've made or medication they may be taking.
This condition can be caused by a number of things and may actually be a symptom of an overarching problem in the body. For instance, the wild swings could be an indicator of gastroparesis, a condition where the stomach delays emptying its content into the intestines. This, in turn, can slow the rate at which glucose enters the bloodstream, leading to low blood sugar levels in the process.
Brittle diabetes could also indicate a person's body is not absorbing or utilizing insulin the way it should be. This could be because the dose is too low or the medication itself has gone bad. The person may have hormone issues that are interfering with insulin's effectiveness. For example, cortisol—a hormone released in times of stress—has been known to increase blood sugar levels and make cells insulin-resistant while it's active in the body.
Which leads in to the third reason brittle diabetes may develop: chronic stress. People who experience psychological problems like stress and depression have a higher risk of developing this condition than people who don't have these issues. Part of the issue may be the release of hormones associated with a psychological problem (e.g. cortisol and stress) and part of it may be that certain mental health issues (e.g. depression) cause people to neglect their diabetes care.
Treating Brittle Diabetes
Resolving brittle diabetes typically involves diagnosing what is causing the problem and taking care of it first. For example, if a person is suffering from gastroparesis, the doctor will typically treat that issue as a means of resolving the uncontrollable swings in blood glucose levels.
However, brittle diabetes is more likely to occur in people who are overweight, so losing excess fat may help as would taking steps to reduce stress levels and deal with other mental health issues.
For more information about brittle diabetes or help controlling blood sugar levels, contact a family physician.Share
23 September 2016
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