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September 24, 2004

Diagnosis and Symptoms, Hyperglycemia and DKA

Question from Logan, Utah, USA:

My five year old son recently began to urinate frequently, claim to be hungry constantly, and became very lethargic. My husband, who has been type 1 for 16 years, and I immediately suspected diabetes. We tested his blood sugar on a home monitor and it was 383 mg/dl [21.3 mmol/L]. We tested a second time and it was 340 mg/dl [18.9 mmol/L]. We washed his hands and tested two more times coming up with 205 mg/dl [11.4 mmol/L] both times. Then, I tested myself to make sure the monitor was not malfunctioning and I was normal. We called the doctor who sent us to the hospital for laboratory tests. Only one hour after we tested at home, the laboratory tests showed that his glucose level was 90 mg/dl [5.0 mmol/L], his thyroid was normal and there was no sugar in his urine. She said that our machine must have malfunctioned, that he was fine, and sent us home. We have tested him several times since then and his levels have been between 101 and 157 mg/dl [5.6 and 8.7 mmol/L]. Taking my husband's medical history into consideration, do you think that he has diabetes or is there another cause for his elevated blood sugar that we could be looking into? Also, should we continue to monitor him at home?


I think you should continue to watch him. Maybe it is early diabetes, maybe not. It is frustrating to report, but people do seem to get these random high glucoses and then have normal ones for as long as they test thereafter. Sometimes, it is early diabetes. Given the family history, why not ask for antibody tests? It is easier in a five year old to continue to test urine; if it is diabetes, it will be high.


[Editor’s comment: You may also want to read Classification and Diagnosis of Diabetes and Symptoms of Diabetes.