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My husband was just diagnosed with diabetes at age 25. He is insulin dependent and apparently does not fit into the common categories of onset. Approximately two years prior to this diagnosis he had an episode of elevated sugar which was attributed to the flu he had at the time. The physician told us that it was nothing to worry about and that any kind of virus can elevate the sugar level.

Is this a common mistake by general practice physicians or is it possible it was just because of the flu? We are curious from the stand point of tracking his history and any possible damage he could of caused himself by not treating the problem for two years? Will this increase his chances of complications in the future? Can you recommend any articles which discuss the connection between diabetes and the flu?

We appreciate any help you can give us.


It is interesting that your husband had documented intolerance to glucose two years before the diagnosis of insulin dependent diabetes. However, this is not all that uncommon. There are two possibilities - that this illness precipitated pancreatic islet cell destruction or that what you were witnessing was a warning of things to come. Your physician was, however, correct that viral illness is not infrequently associated with transient and unimportant rises in blood sugar. This is particularly common in children and is frequently a result of stress such as coming into hospital and having venipuncture.

What really matters is that you could have done nothing about it even had you known that your husband was heading towards diabetes. Assuming that he is genuinely insulin dependent then his blood sugars will not have been high for very long before diagnosis and thus he is very unlikely to have increased his risk of complications. I am quite sure that his diabetes team will be keeping a close watch on him in any case.


Original posting 15 Mar 97


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