April 1, 2002
Question from Horse Cave, Kentucky, USA:
Today, my 10 year old daughter was diagnosed with hypoglycemia. My husband has type 2 diabetes, and I really need some information on how to care for my daughter and how to explain to her what is going on with her body. I really worry about her. Her headaches are really bad, and the dizziness really scares me. How do I get her involved with her treatment?
There are a number of reasons why your daughter could have hypoglycemia and your doctor or a pediatric endocrinologist will be of help in clarifying her diagnosis. From my point of view, as a diabetologist, hypoglycemia presenting in a 10 year old whose first degree relative (father) has type�2 could be an early manifestation of future diabetes or it could be due to the inappropriate release of endogenous insulin from pancreatic beta cells suffering from autoimmune attack.
[Editor’s comment: The usual course of treatment for someone with hypoglycemia involves learning to check blood sugars, learning how to recognize and treat symptoms of lows, and developing a meal plan (usually frequent, small meals) that will prevent the lows, but be conducive to lifestyle. A 10 year old is certainly able to learn all of this, but I can understand your dilemma in trying to explain things to her, and it is important to alleviate your fears.
My suggestion would be to ask your daughter’s doctor for a referral to a pediatric diabetes team consisting not only of physicians, but nurses, dietitians, and mental health specialists. These folks are skilled in training young people and can help both of you develop an appropriate treatment you and she will be able to understand and carry out.