Brittle Diabetes: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

cause, symptoms and treatment options for brittle diabetes

If you or a loved one was recently diagnosed with brittle diabetes, you are probably wondering what it is. Not as common as other forms of diabetes, these are the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for brittle diabetes.

Causes for Brittle Diabetes

Brittle diabetes is the term for type 1 diabetes when it reaches a point of instability where it affects your quality of life. If you are diagnosed with brittle diabetes, you can expect many and longer hospitalizations and a shorter life expectancy.

Essentially, this condition causes your blood glucose levels to fluctuate wildly and unpredictably. It is uncommon, affecting 3 in 1000 diabetics who are insulin-dependent. It is also more prevalent in young women, than others in the diabetic population.


Because one of the hallmarks of brittle diabetes is wildly fluctuating glucose levels, it is also the main symptom to watch out for. Unlike normal glucose level changes that occur in type 1 and type 2 diabetes, brittle diabetes changes without warning and very often. Watch for signs of severely low or high blood sugar levels.


One of the most obvious ways to treat brittle diabetes is keeping your blood sugar levels balanced. To do this, there are a variety of tools available.

One way is to practice continuous glucose monitoring (CGM). Since brittle diabetes fluctuations are more severe than normal diabetes, regular self-monitoring at home is not enough. With CGM, a sensor is inserted under your skin that continuously detects your blood sugar levels. It sends you an alert if they rise too high or dip too low so that you can treat it right away.

Another tool you can use is a subcutaneous insulin pump. Brittle diabetes can cause your blood sugar levels to change so much your body may not be able to respond to its insulin needs.

This pump connects by a needle under your skin. You would have to wear this attachable pump all the time while it pumps insulin into your body. However, this continuous feed of insulin should help keep your insulin levels steady.

Final Thoughts

With careful management, brittle diabetes does not need to be a fatal prognosis. One of the first things you should do is fully understand the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for brittle diabetes, so you can better treat it.