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November 29, 2009


Question from Boise, Idaho, USA:

My four-year-old was just diagnosed with type 1 diabetes five days ago. It's the middle of the night and I woke up to find that he had sweated profusely in the bed. I checked his blood sugar and it was 91 mg/dl [5.1 mmol/L], not low, where it should be. Should I be concerned he is sweating so much or is this just a symptom of diabetes?


Sweating can be a symptom of a low blood sugar — and if it is unusual for your child to sweat, it would be appropriate to check a blood sugar to ensure that he isn’t low or high.


[Editor’s comment: One thing that you may not have learned yet is that a blood sugar reading obtained by a hand-held meter can be off by up to 20%. This means your son could have been anywhere from 73 to 109 mg/dl [4.1 to 6.1 mmol/L]. Furthermore, any meter reading is just a “snapshot” of what one’s blood sugar is and it does not necessarily reflect what the blood sugar was earlier. So, your son could have been either lower or higher over the previous several hours. A Continuous Glucose Sensor, which you may want to consider in the future, would show what the blood sugar has been during the time you were not doing fingerstick checking. These devices may not be perfect, but they are an excellent means of tracking one’s blood sugars. That said, when dosing insulin, you would still want to do a fingerstick check.