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December 13, 2003

Other

Question from Windsor, Ontario, Canada:

I have been seen by several endocrinologists since I was diagnosed with diabetes when I was 17. None of them have ever really touched me physically except maybe my feet or when taking my blood pressure or listening to my heart. I wound up at the ER with a blood sugar of 33.2 mmol/L [598 mg/dl]. I know I didn't have ketones in my urine or blood. They sent an endocrinologist to see me who asked me a lot of seemingly normal questions, told me that my thyroid was swollen, and asked other unremarkable questions. I was in a hospital gown and I expected him to feel my abdomen, which he did. The only unusual thing was he touched my breasts in an awkward kind of way. No one else was in the room. It wasn't like a normal breast exam -- he just kind of squeezed at them.

Answer:

Sometimes a doctor will squeeze a patient’s breasts to see if any milk comes out. Milk discharge is called galactorrhea and can be a sign that prolactin is increased. Prolactin can be increased with an underactive thyroid. I suggest you go to your own endocrinologist and discuss how to avoid high blood sugars and have your thyroid checked. In the future, you can always request that a female be present in the room when a doctor examines you if you feel uncomfortable.

TGL