Type I Diabetes and Diabetic Ketoacidosis

Patient

Q: Hello, I have been experiencing early signs of diabetes, such as frequent urination, blurry vision, extreme hunger (with a side of nausea), and unexplained weight loss. I am aware that I must be checked for diabetes as soon as I start getting symptoms, so I have tried scheduling an appointment with my family doctor. Unfortunately, she is quite busy with other patients at the moment, therefore, I will probably not be able to get an appointment until about a month or so. What do you suggest I do for the time being so that my symptoms don't get any worse?

Doctor

A:   The type of diabetes that usually presents in someone of your age is Type I Diabetes Mellitus, which is an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks the cells of the pancreas, destroying them, and therefore they cannot produce insulin. This type of Type I Diabetes can present acutely with a diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), which is a severe condition where elevated blood sugars may lead to abnormalities of the normal acid-base balance in the body. If untreated this condition may cause a metabolic acidosis and eventually coma. Therefore if you have symptoms of diabetes, I would not hesitate to seek medical help urgently. I would advise contacting your family physician explaining your symptoms and requesting an emergency appointment. Alternatively you could arrange a fasting glucose sample with the practice nurse, or attend your local emergency room.

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