Brittle diabetics: creating a buzz about brittle diabetes

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Who are brittle diabetics and what do we know about brittle diabetes? One article by Peter J. Nebergall PhD states that the most important feature of diabetes is its uniqueness.


He also states that ‘No two diabetics respond in exactly the same way to their food, insulin, or exercise, and no two individuals will experience precisely the same complications of diabetes mellitus, even if they show the same glucose test results.’

When is diabetes brittle?

Brittle diabetes is said to occur when the diabetes sufferers experience frequent and drastic swings in blood sugar levels. These swings in blood glucose levels tend to occur without explanation or warning. Whenever this happen your health care team may consider you to be among the small number of brittle diabetics who need special care.

Other names for brittle diabetes

This type of diabetes is sometimes called labile diabetes or unstable diabetes. This diabetes is very serious because it is so hard to threat. The brittle diabetics in most instances will have to be hospitalised for weeks at a time to try and identify a cause and how to treat it.

Other associated illness


Brittle diabetes may be caused by gastrointestinal absorption problems.  Gastroperesis can affect relative absorption rates of food, glucose and insulin into the bloodstream. This may be as a result of a side effect of damage to the nerves that control internal organs. This is typically a condition that occurs in people with diabetes mellitus.

Psychological problems

Psychological problems, including depression and stress, are also often associated with diabetes when it is considered brittle. Maybe because the diabetics don’t believe they are suffering from diabetes and think that the doctors are trying to over medicate them to sell insulin.

The way diabetes is controlled

The way diabetes is controlled is by balancing our diets with exercise (physical activities) and medication which may include insulin. Since no two diabetics respond to the symptoms of diabetes in the exact same way each diabetes sufferers will have to be treated as an individual – not as ones size fits all.

Brittle diabetics where are you?

Peter J. Nebergall PhD wondered if there is really any truly "brittle diabetic". Or are these brittle diabetics just non-compliant, poorly-controlled diabetes which is unstable diabetes because of other explanations. Although sometimes you can do everything right and still experience drastic swings in relation to small changes in the diet, exercise and quantity of insulin used.


Sometimes brittle-diabetes may not be truly brittle but is as a result of the dawn phenomenon or the Somogyi Effect. According to the ADA - dawn phenomenon is a sudden 10–20 mg/dl rise in blood glucose levels in the early morning hours, 3–6 a.m. It tends to occur in people with type 1 diabetes mellitus and rarely in people with type 2. Dawn phenomenon is also called dawn effect.


According to -The Somogyi effect is caused by night time hypoglycemia, which leads to a rebound hyperglycemia in the early morning hours. This condition is named after Dr. Robert Somogyi the discoverer of the condition. As blood glucose drops during sleep, hormones are released which trigger the liver to release glucose. This after-effect leads to a high-fasting glucose reading in the morning.


According to Robert real "brittle-diabetes" doesn't follow patterns. Therefore it is essential that you talk to your health care team if you are experiencing drastic and unexpected swings in your blood glucose levels.


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