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March 10, 2003

Stress

Question from Eugene, Oregon, USA:

My 19 year old son, who has had type 1 diabetes since age four, was in a car accident recently, and his blood sugar level increased approximately 200 mg/dl [11.1 mmol/L] in a hour. Is this a common response to trauma in this time length?

Answer:

Yes. When your body is under the stress of being in an automobile accident, there is a high degree of emotional and possibly physical stress. This activates the body’s nervous system to produce adrenaline and other similar stress hormones. These stress hormones antagonize the effect of insulin and can raise the blood sugars, requiring increased doses of insulin to meet the challenge. Responses can last for hours.

JTL