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August 14, 2003

Diagnosis and Symptoms

Question from Worth, Illinois, USA:

I am 13 years old, have had hyperglycemia since I was three years old, and I want to know if it is possible or certain that I have diabetes. There is a history of diabetes in my mother's family, but I am not sure of my father's family. I would also would like to know if I got hyperglycemia from my mother because she had it as a child and during my birth, but it wasn't as bad as mine, and she has never been diagnosed or tested. I know from my own encounters with an attack that I have a mild case of hyperglycemia. I used to throw up/vomit after each attack and was extremely weak, but I stopped vomiting when I ate an apple quickly after an incident which made it go away, and I haven't vomited ever since. Could that apple be the reason I don't vomit? Also, as a child and to this day, I have had extremely frightening dreams that are mostly the same as past dreams, I have trouble falling asleep, and I have always felt like an outsider because I am afraid of my own shadow and imagine things are in front of me but aren't there. Could a low immune system have caused the hyperglycemia? I have found a "cure" or fast working activity that stops my rapid heartbeat by holding my breath until it goes away. I haven't had any problems doing this so far, but is it dangerous or unsmart to do? I need to find a way to help me with my symptoms because I become extremely depressed very often. I have never spoken to a doctor about my condition or diabetes and don't believe my mother or father know how serious hyperglycemia can be. I hope my sending this e-mail can answer questions my parents haven't been able to help me with.

Answer:

I think that there are several things that you need to address. First of all, you have written hyperglycemia throughout your letter which means high blood sugar, but the description you give suggests that you might really mean hypoglycemia which means low blood sugar. You indicate that you are not followed by a health care provider. Then how do you know or why do you think you have any problem with your blood sugar? I’m sorry, but I do not understand how you believe you have had hyper or hypoglycemia since age three if you’ve not discussed this with a doctor.

Your symptoms of rapid heart beat could be a symptom of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), but I would not expect it to go away by holding your breath. Many, many things can cause a rapid heart beat. Some of them can be worrisome. Certain heart beat problems could actually be influenced by holding your breath.

Please talk with your parents about getting assessed by a pediatrician who will listen to you and take the time to carefully assess for a problem. Or, at age 13 years, you could probably call your pediatrician yourself.

DS