August 9, 2006
Question from Hager Hill, Kentucky, USA:
Are there any studies or information available to show whether stress affects blood sugars in a juvenile (i.e., inconsistent bedtimes, meal times)? I ask because I am being considered for a job transfer, but I am not sure I want it. This would mean moving my daughter. She would have to go to a different school, although we’d be closer to her endocrinologist and could consider pumping then. Or, she could stay one week with her dad, one week with me, etc. I think the every other week change would be too stressful, as her awake/bedtime hours would fluctuate due to the difference in distance of our homes from her school.
When a person is stressed, their body produces hormones that can impact blood sugars. However, those hormones are not consistently produced, and their impact on blood sugars is not entirely predictable or controllable. Everyone experiences stress. It’s part of the human experience and people with diabetes are not able to avoid stress any more than people who do not have diabetes. People with diabetes, in order to function well in the world, need to learn strategies to manage blood sugar variations, regardless of the source (stress, growing and puberty, eating extra carbohydrates, etc.). Therefore, your decisions about the job and the impact it may have on your family and on everyone’s well-being is a more important consideration than the impact of the move on blood sugar control.
Additional comments from Barb Schreiner, diabetes nurse specialist:
Stress CAN have an effect on blood glucose. For many children, episodes of stress are linked with hyperglycemia. During such times, it is best to check blood sugars more often and make insulin adjustments as needed.
How change is interpreted can be stressful for children and parents. It helps to discuss the positive or exciting things that go along with change, to frame the stressful event in a new and positive way.