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August 22, 2002

Diagnosis and Symptoms

Question from Shawnee, Oklahoma, USA:

My 11 year old son has what our family physician has diagnosed as simple complex seizures. The doctor was not really sure on pinpointing this diagnosis, and I really don't know if he is having seizures. He has had six occurrences, all in gym class (11:00-11:30 am) class, during which he has gotten very disoriented and eventually gets so weak he collapses. He never had any of this happen on this summer break. It never happens on the weekends or at night when he is at home. I was reading about diabetes and had read some symptoms of what happens when children are diagnosed with diabetes, and his 32 year old father has had diabetes for about a year a half. I am not with the father so I don't know what kind or any information about it. Do you think I should get my son tested for diabetes?

Answer:

Please see symptoms of diabetes on this website. I certainly cannot tell whether your son has diabetes at this point, but the symptoms that you are describing are really not at all typical of the high glucose levels seen in someone with diabetes.

I would advise that you follow up with your son’s doctor and/or the neurologist who is working with you. If you have not yet had a referral to a child neurologist, that may a reasonable thing to consider.

DS

[Editor’s comment: If your son has little or no breakfast or eats it early, it may just be that he has “run out of fuel” for gym class, and is having hypoglycemia. Perhaps these episodes can be avoided by making sure he has a snack (e.g., peanut butter and crackers or a small Snickers bar) prior to gym.

SS]