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September 28, 2001

Diagnosis and Symptoms, Research: Causes and Prevention

Question from Fort Collins, Colorado, USA:

My question is to hopefully get some answers or at least shed some light on my situation! I am 25 year old male, who used to be very active until a few months ago. Four months ago, I came down with what doctors think was meningitis. I have been in and out of the hospital, usually staying for at least a week at a time. At first it was for the meningitis, but apparently the meningitis triggered type 1 diabetes.

Lately, I have had conflicting information from doctors. Some say that indeed I have diabetes and some say that my blood sugar could possibly be elevated because of my illness and could be a temporary form of diabetes. Is that possible? I also been told that I might be in the “honeymoon” phase. Is there a time frame when that will end? I’ve been told anywhere from six weeks to two years. No one in my family has diabetes, until me. Have you ever heard of meningitis which triggers type 1 diabetes?

On top of the diabetes, I am having extremely bad headaches as well as really bad muscle aches to the point that my internal medicine doctor put me on medication. I am a little frustrated with all of my doctors so I am trying to get some answers on my own. All of my blood test have been with in normal limits except my GAD antibody test which was slightly elevated when I first became ill, and at my request, will be rechecked in about three weeks. Is it possible for another illness to cause my antibodies levels to rise?


From: DTeam Staff

The meningitis and type 1 diabetes may or may not be related. If the meningitis was caused by a virus, there are some viruses which have been associated with the onset of type 1 diabetes.

The other possibility is that the illness accelerated what was an inevitable disease. The GAD antibody is a good test to run to determine whether you have type 1A (autoimmune) diabetes. This disease usually hits individuals less than 30 years of age, although some delayed or latent forms of the disease are being diagnosed later than age 30. I agree with having the antibody retested. It is also of note that you have no family history, as this is also seen with type 1 diabetes.

The honeymoon stage is a time during which the residual beta cells that make insulin regroup to work better, usually after the elevated sugars are initially decreased. The honeymoon period can last weeks to months and tends to be longer with better control.

The headaches are a problem after anyone has had meningitis.

I’m sorry you have had such a difficult time. It sounds like you have been given good information in what appears to be a frustrating situation for you and your physicians.