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August 15, 2001

Daily Care

Question from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA:

My 21 year old Black brother-in-law, who has diabetes since he was a child and does not take insulin, recently had a physical during which his urine glucose was greater than 2000, and he was advised to see a family physician. The problem is he still insists on maintaining the diabetes on his own. He took his blood glucose level, and it was 30 mg/dl [1.6 mmol/L]. Should he seek immediate medical attention, or are these symptoms just indications of diabetes? His mother has the same condition, but is insulin dependent and has recently had a kidney transplant as the result. Please advise accordingly.

Answer:

My recommendation is to have his condition further characterized by a physician familiar with diabetes and its management. This is a chronic disease. It is known that the better the blood sugar control, the more protection you have from the long-term and debilitating complications of diabetes. It is not enough to go on how you feel because the blood sugars may be elevated for years in patients with type�2 diabetes without a perception of a problem but, only to have evidence of eye or kidney damage on later follow-up. Please have your brother-in-law see a physician about his situation.

JTL