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From Connecticut, USA:

My 10 year old son has had diabetes for three years. No matter what he does the diabetes always crops up. He is a very active little boy who loves sports and just being a kid. We, together, have tried everything that we can to help make his life as normal as it can be; however, his blood sugar is affected by everything that he loves to do. Sports for example: He loves to play football. He does not want to play because he crashes at some point or another. He is to excited about the practice or the game and does not eat enough to be able to make it through. If I stop him for a snack he gets embarrassed in front of the team. I need some advice on how to manage this better.


Managing diabetes creates many special situations for children with this disease. One of these special situations may revolve around physical activity, whether it be a game of hide and seek with friends in the neighborhood or more structured activity, such as in your son's case, football. Getting to a football game becomes more than just putting on a uniform. The player (in this case your son) and his parents (you) must consider the timing of the game and/or practice in relation to meals, insulin action and snack requirements. A hypoglycemic treatment plan must be developed before leaving the house. Your child may be convinced with not only about how well he will play but also about the possibility of embarrassment of hypoglycemia in front of friends, coaches, and those who are watching the game.

Challenges in managing exercise participation in the child with diabetes include balancing glycemic control and the normalcy of play. In social situations, attention directed toward diabetes is seldom welcomed by young people with diabetes.

Your son loves sports and that is wonderful! He also needs to know that life would be pretty boring without other people in it, and that some of those people need to know about his diabetes and some for whom it is nice to know, and others who he will choose not to tell. People who fit into the category of those who need to know would be you (his parents), best friends, teachers, coaches and even relatives. They really should have some understanding about his diabetes schedule and all he needs to do to take care of himself. He also needs to know that these people he can count on to help him through a crisis when he may not be able to handle it by himself. An example would be; the coach needs to understand low blood glucose and how to treat. He should know how to give glucagon if your son ever needs it. This person, the coach, your son needs to feel closest to and feel comfortable telling about his diabetes. The coach and your son, together, should be able to come up with a plan when your son feels low. The plan may incorporate a hand signal to the coach where your son can be relieved from the game in order to treat the low without placing himself in an awkward situation where he will stand out like a sore thumb.

Again, it sounds as though you have some challenges ahead. I hope I was able to give some advice that will send you on the right track. I always tell my clients that they are the number one person in the room and that they need to treat themselves that way to stay in good control of their diabetes and not let diabetes take control of them.


[Editor's comment: You might try using a NiteBite or Gluc-O-Bar as a pre-activity snack. These products use uncooked cornstarch to deliver glucose over many hours. JSH]

Original posting 28 Jun 1998
Posted to Daily Care and Exercise and Sports


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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:08:58
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