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March 11, 2001

Behavior, Hypoglycemia

Question from London, United Kingdom:

My 12 year old daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of seven. At that time, she suffered from night terrors and sleep walking for about six months which we thought was normal for her age. We are now concerned because these incidents have started to happen again. One to two hours, after falling asleep she gets up running around, screaming that she is dying, pleading that we need to get help, and complaining that her head hurts. Her teeth are 'chattering', she talks in a high pitch voice with head bowed down, and she is extremely frightened and shaking. This lasts about 15 minutes and take about another 10 minutes to settle back down. Her blood tests at the time are normally between 8-10 mmol/L [144-180 mg/dl]. This has happened 10 times in the last six weeks, and once during the day when we believe she fell asleep in the car. Also very often she wakes in the night as she has wet the bed and other times sweated so heavily that the sheets have to be changed. Could these be linked with her diabetes? What can we do to help her?


It may be due to her diabetes, or there may be other reasons unrelated to it. You should discuss this with your diabetes specialist to see if it needs to be looked into more carefully.


[Editor’s comment: It may that she has had hypoglycemia, and by the time you check it, her blood sugar is okay because it has come back up on its own. If it is available, your daughter’s situation might well be clarified by monitoring sugar levels continuously for several days to try to sort out what’s happening in more detail. See The Continuous Glucose Monitoring System. Otherwise, I’d suggest that, for a few nights you randomly check blood sugar levels every 15 minutes or so for the first couple of hours after your daughter has gone to sleep to see if you can detect a blood sugar problem.