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February 22, 2001

Diagnosis and Symptoms

Question from Otsego, Michigan, USA:

My four and a half year old daughter has had some high blood sugars, is always hungry, has mood swings, and gets up during the night to use the bathroom. The first high blood sugar was 176 mg/dl [9.8 mmol/L] (basically a fasting reading though because she had eaten very little during the prior 24 hours). At that time, she was fighting a virus at the time and our pediatrician admitted her to the hospital because of the high glucose reading. She had only one more high reading in the hospital, but had ketones in her urine for three days. Since then, I have bought an inexpensive monitor, I've found that she has had one 255 mg/dl [12.5 mmol/L] reading, she gets high readings right after eating (170-190 mg/dl [9.4-10.6 mmol/L]), and she comes back into the 80-90 mg/dl [4.4-5 mmol/L] range at the next meal. We have an appointment in six weeks with a pediatric endocrinologist. Are there any conditions other than diabetes cause glucose levels to rise?

Answer:

There are few other disorders that cause high blood sugars. The symptoms your child is having are suspicious for diabetes, especially the excessive hunger and nighttime urination. Your pediatrician is appropriately watching this closely. The consultation with a pediatric endocrinologist may also be helpful. I would recommend closely monitoring blood sugars at home, and, if they are routinely out of the a target range of 65-110 mg/dl [3.6-6.1 mmol/L], please urgently discuss any high blood sugars with your pediatrician. Don’t forget that children can get ill with diabetes quickly, and, if your child is having high blood sugars, waiting to treat may not be the best option.

MSB

[Editor’s comment: See: The Classification and Diagnosis of Diabetes Guidelines and a listing of the symptoms of diabetes.

SS]