Detection of Symptoms by Adolescents and Young Adults With Type 1 Diabetes During Experimental Induction of Mild Hypoglycemia
Role of hormonal and psychological variables
- Christopher M. Ryan, PHD1,
- Daisy Dulay, BS1,
- Chittiwat Suprasongsin, MD2 and
- Dorothy J. Becker, MBBCH1
- 1Departments of Psychiatry and Pediatrics, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- 2Department of Pediatrics, Ramathibodi Hospital, Bangkok, Thailand
OBJECTIVE—To identify hormonal, psychological, and demographic predictors of symptom detection and accuracy of blood glucose estimation during mild hypoglycemia in adolescents and young adults with type 1 diabetes.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS—During an insulin-glucose clamp study, 53 adolescents and 19 young adults estimated blood glucose levels and reported symptoms at euglycemia and after 30 min of mild hypoglycemia (3.3 mmol/l). Epinephrine and pancreatic polypeptide were measured, and both change in anxiety level during hypoglycemia and baseline level of anxiety were measured with the Spielberger Anxiety Inventory. Elevated levels of anxiety during euglycemia were used as an indicator of the psychological trait “negative affectivity.” Previous studies have suggested that individuals with higher negative affectivity are more internally focused and, therefore, more likely to report somatic and visceral changes.
RESULTS—During mild hypoglycemia, 42% of the sample subjects reported an increase in autonomic symptoms; 29% reported an increase in neuroglycopenic symptoms, and 28% estimated blood glucose levels accurately (within 10% of actual). Hormonal excursions did not predict any outcome, but higher anxiety levels during the euglycemic baseline were associated with better detection of hypoglycemic symptoms and more accurate estimation of blood glucose values after controlling for change in anxiety level during hypoglycemia.
CONCLUSIONS—Psychological factors such as elevated anxiety levels (“negative affectivity”) can influence blood glucose estimation and symptom detection in adolescents and young adults and may explain why some individuals are more adept than others at reducing their risk of severe hypoglycemia after participation in a formal blood glucose awareness training program.
Address correspondence and reprint requests to Christopher M. Ryan, PhD, Western Psychiatric Institute & Clinic, 3811 O’Hara St., Pittsburgh, PA 15213. E-mail:.
Received for publication 25 October 2001 and accepted in revised form 8 February 2002.
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