What Is 'Brittle' Diabetes?

Updated at: Jan 15, 2013
What Is 'Brittle' Diabetes?
Dr Poonam Sachdev
DiabetesWritten by: Dr Poonam SachdevPublished at: Nov 01, 2011

The term brittle diabetes or labile diabetes indicates uncontrolled type 1 diabetes. In people with brittle diabetes large swings in blood sugar (glucose) levels occurs often.


People with brittle diabetes may experience Brittleness in the form of;

  • Hyperglycemic (high blood sugar) brittleness,
  • Hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) brittleness or
  • A combination of both: That is their blood sugar level often swings between hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) to hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).

Some characteristic features of brittle diabetes include;

  • Most patients have consistent brittleness in whether their recurrent episodes are hyperglycemic or hypoglycemic. Very few patients show a combination of both.
  • Brittle diabetes occurs more commonly in women as compared to men and brittleness occurs more commonly during puberty (both in males and females).
  • After a few years insulin dose tends to decrease and episodes of hyperglycemia and severe hypoglycemia also tend to decrease.
  • Complications of diabetic occur more frequently in people with brittle diabetes. This is likely related to poorer metabolic control.
  • The mortality rate in brittle diabetes is high.

Dr Poonam Sachdeva, our in-house medical expert talks about the why what and how in diabetes.


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