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From Iowa:

I am a 17 year-old college student. I was "diagnosed" with hypoglycemia this autumn. I have been diagnosed on the basis of my symptoms and blood work done while I was not symptomatic. I have only seen nurses at my student health center and our small community clinic. The nurses I have seen have not been able to explain hypoglycemia to me so I did my own research at a nearby medical library.

Several friends in the medical profession tell me that I need to see a doctor to have diagnostic testing, such as a glucose tolerance test, in order to confirm the diagnosis. Would this be the best measure? My student insurance does not cover anything unless they refer me to the doctor themselves and since they won't refer me, how should I go about seeing a doctor? I am currently applying to the local fire department and am also beginning training classes in January. I am having a lot of problems with exercising and do not know how to manage this. I can only run or bike for a mile or so before I crash. I have even lost consciousness a few times lately. Do you have any suggestions? How should hypoglycemia be monitored differently from diabetes? Any advice that you could offer would be greatly appreciated.


It would be unwise for me to comment on your story without a great deal more information. However, if you have had episodes of losing consciousness, you certainly need to see a physician. I suggest that you try both by phone and in writing to contact the director of your student health clinic and that at the same time you take your problem to the Dean of Students.

It is possible for diabetes to present as hypoglycemia at your age; but there are other possibilities that may be less easy to diagnose. Moreover the diagnosis needs to be unequivocally confirmed with the appropriate tests. There also needs to be a full history and a complete physical exam. One other possibility is that at your age you may be covered by your parents' health insurance and that you could start the work-up process at your family physician's office during the Thanksgiving holiday.


Original posting 23 Nov 96


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