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October 21, 2002

Diagnosis and Symptoms

Question from Smiths Falls, Ontario, Canada:

I am currently 14 years old, and have been not been diagnosed with diabetes, although my reasons for questioning whether or not I may have the disease are, in my opinion relevant. For a while now (possibly a couple of months), I have been experiencing several symptoms of both type 1 and type 1 diabetes. Having already been aware of some of the symptoms the question arose in my mind a while ago, but I haven't thought that much of it until now. I have researched more into this disease, inquiring on more of the common symptoms, and have found I have in my opinion found more reason to ponder. These are the symptoms I have so far experienced are: blurred vision, increased thirst, tiredness, and tingling and pain in hands/feet. I am not at all overweight, and the last time I checked I weighed 110 pounds. I am approximately 5 feet 4 inches tall, am quite active and fairly athletic. Perhaps I am completely wrong, and this is nothing, but I would just like to hear a response from you if possible so as to at least fulfill my questioning with an answer. I do not feel need to visit a doctor at this current time, but if the symptoms increase in any way or if I hear a suggestion to do so, I will.


It is most appropriate to review these symptoms with your physician now. Testing for diabetes is very simple and should be done given your symptoms. Please also review your concerns and this reply with your parents right away.


[Editor’s comment: Testing for diabetes must include blood sugar levels performed by a medical laboratory. 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.

Occasionally, lab blood sugar testing might be normal in an early case of diabetes, repeat blood sugar testing at the same or a different time, or performing a glucose tolerance test, might be appropriate if there is a high suspicion of diabetes despite normal initial testing. Another test, the glycosylated hemoglobin, might be used to help confirm a suspected diagnosis of diabetes, but the GHB (also called HbA1c or A1c) is not usually considered as appropriate to make an initial diagnosis. Antibody testing is occasionally done as a screening test in high-risk situations, or as confirmatory of type 1A (autoimmune) diabetes, but is not part of routine testing.

Urine sugar tests or home glucose testing, if done, might be positive, which would make the situation more urgent to get lab testing done to confirm the abnormal results. However, urine or home glucose testing, if negative, would not exclude diabetes.

In summary, you need to talk to your physician, and get testing done, to decide if you have diabetes.