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April 8, 2003

Other Illnesses

Question from Titusville, Florida, USA:

My 19 year old son, who has had type 1 diabetes for four years, is on an insulin pump, and has an hemoglobin A1c of 8.9%, is on his third cold in about three months. His symptoms include a high fever, terrible, terrible sore throat and cough. He has been sick enough to miss his college classes and work (which he never does), each one seems to last 7 to 10 days. I have taken him to his regular physician each time and was told he has a "virus" He had standard new patient blood work (metabolic, thyroid, lipid, hematology, and strep test) and everything was relatively normal. There has been no medication prescribed other than over-the-counter varieties of cough and sore throat medications. His endocrinologist did tell him that this can happen when blood sugars are too high, but my son has had high sugars in the past and never had this repeated infection scenario. Do you think this is something to be concerned about? Isn't this a little too frequent to be having these colds?


I suspect that your son has had typical colds that happen throughout the winter months and do not necessarily increase because of inadequate diabetes control. You will find that his ability to recover from even minor infections is delayed when his blood sugars are not under optimum control.

I would encourage him to continue to work on improving his diabetes control with frequent blood sugar checks and review with his diabetes team. For the colds, no magic pills exist to relieve the suffering from these wintertime pests.