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From Chitre, Herrera, Republic of Panama:

My eight year old son, diagnosed at age four, has always had a rather nervous disposition from the time he was a baby. However, lately he seems to come to me with a new ailment every other day. Sometimes, it's a pain in his leg, others, in his chest or neck. His most recent complaints have been headaches and/or a racing heart, and he often becomes tearful when he feels like this, saying that his head hurts really bad, or his heart is pounding really fast. He always asks me to check his blood sugar when he feels like this, but it is usually pretty normal. However, his heart rate is a little fast at these times, around 100 beats per minute.

I've found that reassuring him and distracting him are what work best when this occurs, which leads me to believe that these symptoms of his are mostly psychosomatic, due to his naturally nervous nature along with the added vulnerability that he feels as a child with diabetes. However, I do worry that there might be more to his latest complaint of headaches and/or a racing heart. Could these be diabetes-related? Do other children with diabetes experience similar symptoms? Is there any literature you might recommend that deals with the psychological aspects of juvenile diabetes?


There are some excellent books listed on this web site about the psychosocial aspects of diabetes. Your child might benefit from some psychological testing to determine if there is some root cause of his behavior separate from his diabetes. It almost sounds like anxiety attacks, but I would not be in a position to diagnose such a condition.


Additional comments from Dr. Jill Weissberg-Benchell:

It sounds as if you're already doing the best things for your son if his symptoms are a result of psychological distress -- that is, you are distracting him and re-focusing him. If his symptoms are psychological, he would greatly benefit from working with a mental health professional who teaches children how to manage anxieties and worries. There are many cognitive/behavioral techniques that not only work well in the short-run, but also provide children with wonderful strategies to use in the future. However, since his symptoms also have a physical component, I'd strongly recommend you have your pediatrician look at him to be sure there is no underlying medical cause. It is extremely unlikely that these symptoms are a reaction to living with diabetes, and you already said he's not low when he experiences these physical symptoms. So, I'd explore non-diabetes physical causes with your pediatrician.


Original posting 27 Jan 2003
Posted to Community Resources


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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:09:42
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