United States Sports Academy
America's Sports University®

The Sport Digest - ISSN: 1558-6448

Athletes & Diabetes: Some Things to Consider

What are the signs and symptoms of diabetes?

Signs and symptoms of diabetes include dizziness, headache, intense hunger, aggressive behavior, pale, cold, and clammy skin, and profuse perspiration. Other observable signs may include a staggering gait, clumsy movements, confusion, and a general decrease in performance.

Developing safe guidelines for athletes with diabetes.

  1. Have a routine medical exam and be cleared for activity
  2. Develop a balanced diet and exercise program under a physician’s supervision
  3. Wear identification of your diabetes (Bracelet)
  4. Eat regularly throughout the day
  5. Avoid exercise at peak insulin times and evenings when hypoglycemia is apt to occur
  6. Adjust carbohydrate intake and insulin dosage prior to exercise
  7. Check blood glucose levels before, during, and after exercise
  8. Prevent dehydration by drinking adequate amounts of proper fluids
  9. Have access to fast acting carbohydrates during exercise to prevent hypoglycemia
  10. Avoid alcohol and smoking

Note: Insulin Shock and Diabetic Coma.

Exercise lowers blood sugar, hence any exercise must be counterbalanced with increased food intake or decreased amounts of insulin. If blood glucose falls below normal levels, hypoglycemia occurs and the body goes into insulin shock.

The difference between a diabetic coma and insulin shock is that a diabetic coma gradually occurs over a few days time. The individual becomes increasingly restless and confused. They will also complain of a dry mouth and intense thirst. The next stage of the diabetic coma includes abdominal cramping and vomiting. Finally, the individual slips into a coma.

Comment: Know your athletes’ medical history, conduct pre-participating exams, and create guidelines on the care for special populations of athletes.