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From Ithaca, New York, USA:

My 4 year old grandson was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes about two weeks ago. About one week ago he started being very hyper and difficult to control. Could these actions have anything to do with the insulin?


Insulin itself has no direct effect on behaviour except when too much insulin causes the blood sugar to fall inappropriately. In the case of your grandson, you should remember that he has had insufficient insulin for at least some part of the day for some weeks and perhaps months and that this has affected his metabolism in other ways than blood glucose levels. Once insulin is started there is usually a rapid restoration of well being. So one explanation of his being 'hyper' may simply be a return of normal 4 year old exuberance. There are two other factors to consider. One is that his blood sugars are now running consistently lower than they have been and that this may be producing the symptoms of hypoglycemia, an effect that will quickly wear off as he becomes adjusted to a more normal pattern.

When you talk about his being 'difficult to control', I assume that you are talking about behaviour and not blood sugars. He is too young to have any understanding of the rather frightening events he must have endured around the diagnosis and the subsequent need for injections. Patience, repeated explanations and ample demonstrations of love should solve the problem; but remember that his mother especially will need help too and if you can tactfully encourage father's participation that will be important too. Later on, of course everyone will have to watch that this little boy does not use his diabetes to manipulate the family and you may even need some professional help from the social worker in your diabetes team.


Original posting 17 Apr 97


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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:08:54
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