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Diabetic Instability 

Glucose Meter Reading Showing Hypoglycemia. Courtesy Abbott.

Glucose Meter Reading.Courtesy Abbott.

What Is Diabetic Instability?

Diabetic instability, also called brittle diabetes, is poor control of blood sugar characterized by frequent rise (hyperglycemia) and fall (hypoglycemia). These fluctuations can be life-threatening and cause unnecessary complications.

Q: What are complications in diabetes?

A: Complications of diabetes include any/all of the following:

  • Peripheral neuropathy that causes burning, numbness, or tingling in the extremities.
  • Skin infections and ulcers that do not heal and can lead to amputation of toes, feet or legs.
  • Damage to retina that can progress to blindness.
  • Cataracts and glaucoma that impair vision and can cause blindness.
  • Increased susceptibility to serious infections of the genitourinary tract, lung and upper respiratory tract that can become systemic and life-threatening.
  • Kidney disease that can lead to kidney failure.
  • Heart disease that can lead to heart failure.
  • Vascular disease that can lead to stroke.
  • Impaired motility in digestive tract that can lead to dyspepsia and constipation.
  • Pregnancy complications.
  • Shortened life expectancy.

The main causes of brittleness include malabsorption, certain drugs (alcohol, antipsychotics), defective insulin absorption or degradation, defect of hyperglycemic hormones especially glucocorticoid and glucagon, and above all delayed gastric emptying as a result of autonomic neuropathy.1

What Is Diabetic Instability In Celiac Disease and/or Gluten Sensitivity?


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  1. Vantyghem MC, Press M. Management strategies for brittle diabetes. Ann Endocrinol (Paris). 2006 Sep;67(4):287-96. 

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