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August 22, 1999

Diagnosis and Symptoms

Question from Gulfport, Mississippi, USA:

My husband was recently diagnosed with diabetes, however, doctors are unsure whether or not he is Type 1 or Type 2. He is 21 years old, and had a grandfather who died of complications from Type 2. His sugars are currently under control, but he still feels the symptoms of diabetes: weight loss, always being tired, etc. Over a period of 3 months he lost 35-40 pounds, although he was only 20 pounds overweight. Doctors think he is type 1 because of the quick onset of the symptoms, but they are still unsure. We are currently awaiting the results from a test to help tell the type he has. Our eating habits have only changed moderately, meaning we eat more fruits and vegetables, but he still eats the same amount as before he was diagnosed. The constant weight loss is concerning to me. Please give me your opinion of what type you think he may be. Could something else be wrong which is making the weight loss constant?

Answer:

I can understand your concern and search for a true diagnosis of your husband’s diabetes. A C-peptide test can demonstrate the amount of insulin being produced at that time and I would guess this is the test you are waiting for.

More important than the type of diabetes, 1 or 2, is the outcome of treatment. High blood sugar is the enemy to the body, causing risk of complications over the years. I hope you and your husband are seeking diabetes education which should include the skills of carbohydrate counting, home blood testing and what the numbers tell you, as well as the use of diabetes medicines and insulins. If your husband is taking insulin or adds it in the future, learning to match insulins to food and life make it a lot easier to live well with diabetes in good control.

Continued weight loss could be related to continued high blood sugar. If your husband’s blood sugar is now normal, but he continues to lose weight, keeping food records and meeting with a diabetes educator could help you determine if he’s getting enough calories to meet his day to day needs. I wish you and your husband success in learning all you can to manage his diabetes while living life to its fullest.

KS