October 16, 2001
Diagnosis and Symptoms
Question from Melbourne, Australia:
My 11 year old boy is on medication for bedwetting, has put on a little weight, is always looking for food, is thirsty and urinates a lot. He is active and happy, but often anxious. His fasting blood sugar is 4.2 mmol/L [76 mg/dl] and 9.2 mmol/L [166 mg/dl] at 5 pm. His grandfather was diagnosed with diabetes in his 70s. Do we have cause for concern?
Your son’s blood sugar levels suggest he does not have diabetes at this time. It would be wise to meet with his doctor to go over these symptoms, and see if any other tests may be needed to try and find out whether his symptoms are due to a physical problem or not.
[Editor’s comment: It’s not clear if you did a home sugar test, or whether the test was done in a lab. 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 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.