Thirst, tiredness, pruritus vulvae or balanitis, polyuria, and weight loss are the familiar symptoms of diabetes. Why then is the diagnosis so often missed? Of 15 new patients with diabetes presenting in our diabetic ward for the first time with ketoacidosis, 14 had had no tests for diabetes after a total of 41 visits to their doctors. Almost all these serious cases of ketoacidosis could have been prevented.
Patients do not, of course, always describe their symptoms in the clearest possible terms, or else their complaints may occur only as an indirect consequence of the more common features. Many patients describe dry mouth rather than thirst, and patients have been investigated for dysphagia when dehydration was the cause. Polyuria is often treated blindly with antibiotics; it may cause enuresis in young people and incontinence in elderly people and the true diagnosis is often overlooked. Complex urological investigations and even circumcision are sometimes performed before diabetes is considered.
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Diabetes is a disease that affects the way your body uses food. Normally, your body converts sugars, starches and other foods into a form of sugar called glucose. Your body uses glucose for fuel. The cells receive the glucose through the bloodstream. They then use insulin a hormone made by the pancreas to absorb the glucose, convert it into energy, and either use it or store it for later use. Learn more...