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November 2, 2000

Diagnosis and Symptoms

Question from Metairie, Louisiana, USA:

I am 18 years old, and, about three to four weeks ago, began experiencing excessive thirst and hunger, but kept losing weight. I have been dancing for over 15 years, and, currently, I am dancing over 10 hours a week, which is much less than I have danced in the past, but this last month it has become very hard to get through a normal dance class without getting extremely tired, almost to the level of collapsing. I went to the doctor about a week and a half ago. He thought that diabetes could be the reason so he did a urine test at about 3:00 pm when I hadn't eaten all day but had had many bottles of water to drink. He said it was negative, and I shouldn't worry. My grandma is a nurse and tested my sugar level. It was around 180 mg/dl [10 mmol/L] at 9:00 am without eating. So, she tested my urine, and it turned the color it wasn't supposed to turn. She urged me to get in touch with my doctor as soon as possible, but i haven't called him because I don't know what to say? Is my grandma just overreacting or could this really mean something serious? How can I call my doctor, and say I think he could have been wrong? Is it normal to be 18 and get diabetes?

Answer:

I would tell your physician the story you have related in your e-mail. Your doctor won’t be mad as you suggest — but should encourage you to repeat the test in his office to confirm or rule out your suspicion of diabetes. It is never normal to develop diabetes, and a fasting blood sugar of 180 mg/dl [10 mmol/L], especially with the abnormal urine, is likely diabetes. Please review this with your physician right away, and ask him/her to do another blood test.

MSB

[Editor’s comment: If (for any reason!) you’re uncomfortable talking with the physician, please call the doctor’s office, and specifically ask to talk to the nurse who works with the doctor (or if the doc’s in a large office practice, ask to talk to the “phone nurse”). Explain what you’ve told us, and ask the nurse to help get things organized to get more testing done.

WWQ]