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September 1, 2000

Diagnosis and Symptoms

Question from Muskegon, Michigan, USA:

My son is six years old and has had some increasing symptoms that mimic those of diabetes. Recently he has had complaints of light-headedness, nausea, increased thirst, increased urination, increased hunger, and mood swings. He had a fasting blood sugar test done two months ago and it was negative. His urine was negative as well. The symptoms are appearing to be worse now and the doctor says he's not convinced it's diabetes. He states that my son would be more sick than he is. Can the symptoms appear and wax and wane for awhile, prior to a positive test result? We had him back at the doctor 5 days ago due to a scary experience. The doctor didn't run any tests, but did say that it could have been a seizure. I was told to wait until it happens again and then bring him back. I would rather know what to do now to hopefully prevent this from happening again, or at least know what is causing it.


t is just possible that your son is in the preclinical phase of type 1 diabetes and that the ‘scary’ episode was one of hypoglycemia due to a delay in what is called first phase insulin release. This can happen in the earliest stages of islet cell damage when the insulin response to a meal is delayed and causes hypoglycemia. Symptom of diabetes in the period before insulin dependence can be very variable. I sense a good deal of anxiety about the possibility of diabetes and to alleviate this you might talk to the doctor about getting an antibody test or call 1-800-425- 8361 for commercial laboratories. The cost may not be covered by insurance and is around $90.