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February 21, 2002

Diagnosis and Symptoms

Question from Birmingham, United Kingdom:

I am 26 years old, and for the past two years, I have been having excessive fatigue, usually after eating. My vision just before these attacks has doubled up images which makes me feel very dizzy, so I have to close my eyes. Sometimes (when I can) I sleep during these attacks of fatigue. When I wake or when the fatigue stops I desperately need the toilet and am very thirsty. to the point where, when I was in a pub I demanded water very aggressively when told the bar was shut! When I told my doctor, he tested my blood for all "organic" reasons for the symptoms before referring me to a neurologist who told me I had "narcoleptic symptoms", the sleeping disorder for which there is no test. Considering the desperation for water and excessive urinating (when can't go, I have had a couple of accidents), I wondered if I have been wrongly diagnosed and if a form of diabetes has not been spotted by my doctor's tests.

Answer:

It’s almost impossible not to spot diabetes with the routine tests, given the high levels of sugar in the blood you should have in order to have the classical symptoms of diabetes.

MS

[Editor’s comment: Testing for diabetes simply is measurement of the blood sugar levels. The timing of the sample (fasting, random, or postprandial) would influence how high a level is considered abnormal. See Classification and Diagnosis of Diabetes for further information.

WWQ]