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From Conrad, Montana, USA:

I am now 17, I have had diabetes since I was nine, and I was wondering if there has been any research done on memory loss in people with diabetes. For the past year especially, I have been really noticing that my memory seems very weak compared to what it used to be. I cannot recall a lot of things, that I know that I know, and It scares me a lot. I try very hard to keep my blood sugar stable, but, when I was 14 and 15, I was high a lot. I am pretty sure my memory lapse has to do with my diabetes. I cannot remember anything, especially when my blood sugar is high. I cannot find anything else in my life that would cause this so I would appreciate any advice you could give.


This is a very interesting question, and I am uncertain how best to have you evaluated for your perception of your self-memory problems. While some of the medical literature is conflicting, I think there is a body of evidence that has demonstrated subtle, diminished long-term memory skills in patients with type 1 diabetes, compared to people without diabetes and even some with type 2 diabetes. This seems to me more so in those who have had sub-optimal control or those who have had more frequent hypoglycemia and appears to be over-and-beyond any cognitive issues that occur in people with diabetes who have had early atherosclerosis, strokes, heart attacks, etc.

However, the differences reported are subtle. A psychologist with special interest and training in cognitive/memory/academic testing may be able to guide you. You may have to seek out such an individual at an academic medical center.


Additional comments from Dr. Jill Weissberg-Benchell:

I agree with Dr. Schwartz. It is very important that you ask your diabetes team for a referral to a neuropsychologist. Neuropsychologists specialize in assessing how people learn, remember, organize and plan. If you are having trouble remembering things, such an evaluation will help determine the extent of this problem and also offer advice about how to begin to improve this problem.


Original posting 14 Dec 2001
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