What is dawn phenomenon?

As the name suggests dawn phenomenon is abnormal rise of blood sugar (glucose) levels at dawn i. e between 2 am to 8 am.

It is found to occur naturally in general population but its analysis plays important role in treatment of diabetes.

Why dawn phenomenon occurs?

It is not completely understood but it is put that it occurs because of higher activity by normally occurring hormones in body during night.

 It is also put that as the carbohydrates consumed in food are used up till 2 am in night. This leads to slight drop of glucose in body.

This drop of glucose leads to increase in activity of growth hormone and catecholamines which causes increase in production of glucose along with release from liver.

These hormones also cause inhibition of effect of insulin leading to more increase in glucose levels in blood.

This effect is more pronounced in type-1 patients. This is due to their inability to produce insulin and dependence on externally administered insulin injections.

This effect is also triggered by insufficiency of insulin the night before, inadequate dose of anti- diabetic medication or less carbohydrate consumption in dinner.

How dawn phenomenon happens in diabetic patients?

In normal non-diabetic individuals, there is slight secretion of insulin before dawn.

This compensates and neutralizes the increase in glucose released by liver in blood and prevent hyperglycemia.

In type-1 diabetic patients’ inability to produce insulin and in type-2 diabetic patient inability to produce sufficient insulin leads to hyperglycemia.

Further “extended dawn phenomenon” is also found where the elevated blood sugar levels continue after morning breakfast.

How dawn phenomenon is treated?

You need to consult doctor. Its treatment varies from individual to individual and depends on below listed changes and modifications:

  1. Modification in diet which might include decrease in carbohydrate consumption.
  2. Increased exercise in evening and before breakfast.
  3. Change in dosage and timing of insulin and anti-diabetic medication by doctors.

Use of Insulin pumps which helps in continuous subcutaneous infusion mostly in case of type-1 diabetes

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