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November 1, 2000

Complications

Question from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA:

My 13 year old has type�1 diabetes diagnosed at the age of nine. Over the past year, controlling his sugar levels has been a challenge, to say the least. He frequently screams with charley horse-like pain in his lower limbs. Three months ago, he was hospitalized in for diabetic ketoacidosis. While in the hospital, the physician told me that cramping can be a symptom of dehydration (caused by out of control sugar). Since his hospitalization, my son's blood sugars are under much better control. However, the pain in his legs continue. While I realize that they may be nothing more than charley horses or spasms, I'm concerned. How long after a high blood sugar would your body show symptoms such as cramping? Is there a way for me to determine whether or not this is related to his sugars?

Answer:

The cause of these muscle cramps is not well understood, but your son is at the peak age whatever the cause. I think that his doctor was right in saying that the most likely explanation was mild dehydration due to having to excrete excessive sugar in his urine. This, in turn, can diminish blood flow to muscles and the accumulation of substances like nitric oxide. It is only linked indirectly to his diabetes, but they may be relieved if you can achieve really good control

DOB