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January 29, 2003

Diagnosis and Symptoms

Question from the United Arab Emirates:

I'm 13 years old, and I have a few symptoms of diabetes -- great thirst, going to the bathroom a lot, and I think I lost some weight without intending to. The problem is that my parents don't believe that so it was hard to convince them to take me to the hospital to get something done. I don't' know what its called, but they took a drop of blood from my finger. They told me I had to be fasting, but I had eaten chocolate an hour before I went, and my blood sugar 76 mg/dl [4.2 mmol/L]. They said that there's nothing wrong with me and I'm perfect, but I've heard you should get a glucose tolerance test. Is what I did enough or do I need to do more?


The blood glucose level you have quoted is normal. It is very unlikely your symptoms are due to diabetes.


[Editor’s comment: Testing for diabetes should 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 Guidelines 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 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.