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March 1, 2002

Exercise and Sports

Question from Muncy, Pennsylvania, USA:

My 12 year old son, diagnosed with type 1 diabetes just three months ago, has greatly elevated blood glucose levels when he exercises so he does not take in extra carbs before activities. His diabetes team does not have an answer as to why he does not need extra carbs when exercising or why his glucose goes so high (300 mg/dl [16.7 mmol/L] or more). Hopefully you can answer this question and put our minds at ease.

Answer:

This is interesting. I assume that your son doesn’t have generally poor diabetes control. If he does, he will be relatively under-insulinised and the effect of adrenalin and other hormones produced by vigorous exercise will push his glucose levels up. If his control is good, it may just be that he has an exaggerated adrenalin response.

KJR