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I am a college dance teacher, and I have a student with diabetes who had severe complications with her kidneys and was put on dialysis temporarily. She also had many problems with her sugar raising and dropping. I taught her last year, have her again this year and I worry that she pushes herself too hard. What symptoms can I look for to tell me if she needs to sit out due to diabetes, pain, or even her kidneys? I hope you can help me so I can watch out for her and hopefully help her to help herself.


It's pretty rare for a teen to have such serious kidney problems. This is most likely related to many years of extremely poor diabetes self-care, omitting insulin doses, food problems, not monitoring or some combination. However, the best advice would be for you to sit down with this dance student and pose these exact questions so that you can respond to her needs.

In simple terms, you shouldn't have to worry about her kidney functions since you would not have any way of telling whether it is acting up or not except perhaps for decreased energy level and some generalized swelling -- face, hands, feet. More specifically related to her diabetes are issues of hypoglycemia which would be addressed by asking her about her symptoms. You might notice incoordination, decreased strength, dizziness, pallor, confusion, moodiness, excessive sweating, tremors. In extreme circumstances, such episodes of hypoglycemia could cause lose of consciousness and convulsions. You should learn about her symptoms and whether or not she knows and is willing to do pre-dance blood glucose testing since this would help decease the likelihood of sever episodes of hypoglycemia. You should also ask about how she would like you to help identify hypoglycemia -- if you notice any such symptoms -- and how she should be treated -- juice, sugar containing soda, glucose tablets, glucose gels, etc.


[Editor's comment: Also see Actions for Coaches and Physical Education Teachers. WWQ]

Original posting 9 Sep 2002
Posted to Daily Care


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