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October 20, 2003

Diagnosis and Symptoms

Question from Hamden, Ohio, USA:

My five year old son is always thirsty, has suddenly begun eating excessively, and he is tired a lot. My wife has type 2 diabetes, so we tested him at home, and he has had several high blood glucose readings (in excess of 200 mg/dl [11.2 mmol/L]). We took him to our family doctor who told us that blood glucose monitoring was not accurate in kids. She did a urine test and said it was negative. Is the home monitoring accurate in kids? What signs should I watch for? Should I take him for a second check with a different doctor?


Your son’s physician may be correct in stating that using a home glucose meter to make an accurate diagnosis of diabetes in a child or adult is a bad idea, but I would suggest further detailed laboratory testing for diabetes given the symptoms you’ve mentioned. I would review this with your physician and if you aren’t satisfied, seek additional consultation.


[Editor’s comment: Testing for diabetes should include blood sugar levels performed by a medical laboratory. The timing of the sample (fasting, random, or postprandial) would influence how high a level is considered abnormal. See Classification and Diagnosis of Diabetes guidelines for further information.

Urine sugar tests or home glucose testing, if done, might be positive, which would make the situation more urgent to get lab testing done to confirm the abnormal results. However, urine or home glucose testing, if negative, would not exclude diabetes.