Today’s Blog starts with a Type of Diabetes I didn’t even know existed, and develops into a discussion about recent updates in Islet Cell Transplantations (ICT). As with all types of diabetes, Brittle diabetes is known by several other names (labile diabetes and unstable diabetes). They’re all terms used to describe uncontrolled Type 1 diabetes (T1D). People with brittle diabetes frequently experience large swings in blood sugar (glucose) levels. These cause either hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) or hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), which is more common but less dangerous. Hypoglycemia can lead to Insulin Shock.
Psychological problems, including depression and stress, are also often associated with brittle diabetes.
Difference between Brittle and Stable Diabetes
The blood sugar levels of people with stable diabetes may fluctuate occasionally. Efficient self-monitoring allows most living with T1D to participate in the daily activities of life. Those with brittle diabetes have little to no control over the fluctuations, which are more frequent and more extreme.
Who Gets Brittle Diabetes and Why
People with psychological problems, such as stress and depression, are at highest risk of experiencing brittle diabetes. Stress and depression lead to apathy, which leads to poor management, which causes more fluctuations, which result in more complications, leading us back to increased stress and depression. It’s a cyclical nightmare. Most people with brittle diabetes tend to be between the ages of 15 and 30.
What Can Be Done?
Selected patients with severe degrees of brittle diabetes may consider isolated islet transplant or pancreas transplant. While promising, transplantation remains a relatively new therapy and carries significant risks, including those associated with anti-rejection immunosuppressive therapy.
When I was a small lad of 5 or 6, my parents had my brother and I donate blood towards research for islet cells and insulin. After 10 years, and no sign of diabetes, the program ended. But Islet Cell Transplantation is already proven to work… not perfectly, but that’s because they lack the needed Islet Cells to do research (which need to be from a human cadaver).
Well, I’m already an Organ Donor, so add Islet Cells to the equation. In another blog I’ll go over the details on ICT, and why we should be supporting the research being done.