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October 26, 2006

Other, Type 2

Question from New Rochelle, New York, USA:

My 22 year old son was just diagnosed last week. He began gaining weight over the past four years while away at college. He stopped playing his lifelong sport of hockey, apparently picked up poor eating habits and did lots of drinking. He went from 220 pounds or so to 330 pounds! This past May, he didn't go out as much as usual and I noticed he was "watching" his food intake (not really dieting). He lost 60 pounds by September and has lost another 30 since he came home. I took him to the doctor because I noticed his dry mouth, that he was drinking a lot of water and that his hair was getting very thin. He is now back at college with a blood glucose meter and oral medications and I'm very worried. I have several questions: How much time will it take until his blood sugars go down? Should he have an doctor/endocrinologist at school to go for check-ups? Why the hair loss and will it come back?

Answer:

The blood sugars should go down in days to weeks. If it is longer than that, and the blood sugars remain outside target ranges, your son should contact his physician for further recommendations.

One of the problems that young adults with diabetes have to deal with is the “treatment gap.” It would probably be a good idea to have someone he can see at college if it means that being away at college allows him to see his usual provider less than two times per year. Many things can be taken care of over the phone with prescriptions. Laboratories can often be checked through student health. Blood sugars can even be e-mailed or faxed to the primary provider.

Hair loss may be a reflection of his overall health. During untreated diabetes, individuals are actually wasting away their health. They lose weight because their body cannot use the nutrients they eat. This will often improve with treatment of his diabetes. If there is actually hair loss, it may also reflect male pattern hair loss that may or may not come back.

JTL