Brittle diabetes is a term used by doctors to describe hard-to-control diabetes. It’s also called “labile” diabetes. I used to think that “brittle diabetes” meant that they just didn’t care about their diabetes, and therefore it was a lot more difficult to control. 

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Type 1 diabetics with “brittle diabetes” have wild swings in blood sugar that are unpredictable, sharp, and seemingly without cause. They frequently experience very high highs and very low lows. They’re also more at risk of developing diabetic ketoacidosis and hypoglycemia. It’s also probable that brittle diabetics have hypo-unawareness, which means they can’t feel their lows, and so are less likely to catch them before they go too far down.

Wins & Fails

Colleen’s Win: I used the extended bolus function on my Tandem t:Slim X2 pump for the first time since getting Control IQ. I was happy that it worked, whereas before Control IQ, getting it to complete an extended bolus took some finagling.

Jessie’s Fail: Jessie forgot to un-suspend her pump after running and woke up at 2:30 AM with a high blood sugar: 342 mg/dL!

Hack of the Week

There was a post on Facebook from someone whose sensor was showing perfect blood sugars, but her symptoms and how she felt were not jiving. She didn’t want to go to the ER because of COVID, but eventually her boyfriend forced her to the ER and she was in DKA with her blood sugar over 600. Her sensor had been wrong the whole time.

This story made me question why she wasn’t checking her sensor against her meter. She was using the sensor as the single source of truth, and if you’ve been listening to us for a while you know that we don’t always trust what the sensor says. If your physical symptoms do not make sense for what your sensor says, check your meter.

When you hear "brittle diabetes" you might think "fragile" or "easily broken". Find out the real meaning of brittle diabetes and tips on how to manage it.

Diabetes Spotlight

The spotlight this week is on Cynthia Katsingris, a type 1 diabetic from New York and founder of She caught and recovered from COVID-19 and wrote a guest article for diaTribe at the end of April.

She credits her recovery to her experience with Type 1 Diabetes and knowing how to take care of herself when she’s sick.

Cynthia’s experience is a good lesson for everyone, even the non-diabetics. We’re glad she recovered and can share her story with diaTribe and the diabetes community!

Question for You!

This week we want to know if you are or used to be classified as a brittle diabetic, and how you manage it. What is your biggest struggle with uncontrolled diabetes? What are your thoughts on the word itself, brittle?

Links & Resources

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Our music is by Joseph McDade. Check out his website here! Our audio wizard is my husband Tim. He runs his own food blog called Split Appetites.

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