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August 2, 2001

Diagnosis and Symptoms

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Question from Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA:

I am a 12 year old female with a long family history (on both sides) of type 1 and 2 diabetes who has hypoglycemia which my doctor warned me could switch over to diabetes. In my view point, I have all the symptoms of diabetes (I get dizzy all the time, I have been eating about twice the amount what I used to, I have grown taller, but I have lost 11 pounds, I wet the bed last night, I sleep for 13 hours from morning till night then I take a nap, but I keep waking up to get drinks of water, and I drank by myself one half gallon of milk in about two hours).

My mom is a nurse and told me I am being overdramatic, there is nothing to worry about, and told me there is no way that I would have diabetes. She checked fasting sugar which was 128 mg/dl [7.1 mmol/L].

How can I convince my mom to take me to the doctor? When people with hypoglycemia get diabetes which type do they primarily get?

Answer:

From: DTeam Staff

I think that you are very mature to be thinking about these things. It doesn’t seem overdramatic to me as you have listed many of the “textbook”, classic symptoms of diabetes: increased urination, increased thirst, increased appetite, and (despite the appetite) weight loss.

I don’t know how your mom checked your blood glucose (sugar), but it was probably with a meter. These are very helpful, but I would not base a diagnosis of whether someone has diabetes on a one-time fingerstick blood glucose. Regardless, the current criteria of diabetes would include a fasting glucose greater than 125 mg/dl [6.9mmol/L], especially in someone with symptoms.

I think you should talk with your mother in a mature way, outline your considerations, and maybe even show her this letter, and make an appointment right away with your doctor. Maybe your mom is afraid that you may be right and wants to try to put off getting things checked, but your doctor’s office can only reassure you when they get the facts. They may draw a fasting blood test from a vein to measure the glucose and may even repeat the blood test after you’ve had a hearty breakfast.

As to your question about people with hypoglycemia developing diabetes, we do see that from time to time, but I don’t think it is super common.

DS

[Editor’s comment: It might help to print out your question with Dr. Schwartz’s answer and show it to your mom. Don’t wait because if you do have diabetes, you could get very sick.

SS]