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Why does basketball make Arden's BG rise?

Arden brings the ball down the court, passes and looks for a rebound.


Last week during Arden's quarterly Endo appointment I brought up an issue that I had identified but couldn't figure out. I explained to our nurse practitioner that when Arden exercises her BG falls. Riding a bike, running around, recess at school, really all of the her physical activities decrease her BG... except sports.

I, of course, am aware that activity can cause a decline in BG but our issue didn't seem to be following that "rule". It took me a while to be able to see past the expectation that physical exertion would decrease Arden's blood glucose level. Inexplicably, I was having trouble with her BGs actually going up during basketball games and practices this winter. When I finally thought back, I realized that I saw similar BG trends last summer during softball.

Our NP asked about Arden's level of competitiveness, as she spoke I began to understand what she was getting at...

Arden is a very competitive little girl, when it counts. That is to say that if she goes out back with her brother to shoot baskets her BG falls from the activity as you may expect but when she is in a game, when there is a score being kept and winners and losers are recorded - Arden's BGs go up.

I explained to our NP that Arden entered her last basketball game with a BG of 125 and that by the end of the game, just one hour later with no food or carbs in her system, her BG was 220 and climbing. I was bolusing during the game, which was nerve wracking when you consider that the expectation is that there will be a fall from the activity.

The NP described to me that this is a phenomenon that they generally see with boys, then she turned to Arden and said, "so, you like to win huh?". Apparently it's common for very competitive people to access their flight or flight response (also known as 'the stress response') during a sporting competition. Their desire to win is so strong that they feel the game on a different level. Adrenaline is released and their body prepare to battle as if they are fighting for their lives.

Next week when we arrived at the gym. I am going bolus as if Arden was about to consume a 15 carb juice box (the ones we use for low BGs). I'm confident that the insulin begins to act it will find a rising BG to tussle with, if I'm wrong... we'll just drink the juice. I'll report back and let you know what happens... Never a dull moment with type I diabetes.

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Reader Comments (6)

Scott, a question... could hydration be an issue? I know I had this problem after 1 1/2 to 2 hour triathlons, and traced it in part to not getting enough water during the event. Maybe that's not it, but I just thought I would mention it.

January 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterStephenS

I have to do this when I do strenuous activity. Walking is about the only time I find my blood sugar dropping. If I am REALLY working out I must bolus prior to my workout. It took a long time to figure that out and be okay with bolusing before excercise!

January 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTammy

Stephen - We are careful to drink before and during. I think this is more of an adrenaline issue. That said, Arden's BGs are impossible to move if she is dehydrated, all the insulin in the world won't move a number in that situation. I think most would agree. I happy that you found your answer! Thanks for commenting!

Tammy - I feel like it took me too long to figure out but I'm glad that this possibility came to light. We'll know for sure Saturday.

Be Well,

January 29, 2013 | Registered CommenterScott Benner

I remember reading, about a year or so ago, of a professional bowler with T1D (I forget his name). The article discussed how how his insulin needs changed dramatically during games/tournaments/whatever-they're-called, and I was a bit confused, thinking bowling is not nearly as physically intensive as, say, basketball. Then the article went on to say how he needed MORE insulin - about double - because of the stress-induced adrenaline that the competition brought. It surprised me, but I took it as a learning experience.

The same could absolutely be happening with Arden. I wouldn't dispute the NP's explanation. Recalling this other story, it makes perfect sense.

January 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterScott E

LOVE this article!! Took me way too long to figure out I have the exact same issue! The "good" part is when I'm trying to work out to lose weight etc, I can tell if I'm working 'hard enough' by what my BG is doing. Walking on the treadmill, or any non-resistence activity makes my BG go down. When I'm doing any type of resistence or working hard, it goes up or at best stays level. Of course a few hours later I drop like a rock so make sure she has some protein when she's done. For me when I dose in response to adrenaline, it's hard to win and then later on it's like ALL of that insulin hits at the same time - can be scary - good luck!

January 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPatty

Thank for sharing Scott and Patty!

January 30, 2013 | Registered CommenterScott Benner

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