|Main symptoms of diabetes|
As a life care planner and counselor I had many opportunities to interact with clients with their doctors in preparing case material or providing guidance. I also had personal experience with health conditions that helped me learn that medical diagnosis is not a perfect science, so the patient needs to be vigilant and informed. That's particularly true because certain conditions can
produce similar symptoms; and if the right one is not treated, serious harm to a patient can result. My personal story reflects these issues.
I experienced chills and sometimes what I thought were hot flashes at night. I felt lethargic intermittently throughout the day. Sometimes I would have to sleep in my chair at work in order to get through the work day. My feet had small red sores around the toes that sometimes burned, and I had fungus under my toenails I had for years. My face would break out in red patches around the nose and across the forehead. I had fungal infections on my feet and terrible itching. I would frequently ache all over. I had sleep problems and often felt depressed for no reason. During my young adulthood, prior to menopause, I suffered from painful menstrual symptoms. I did not have frequent thirst, but as I was to learn later, this may be a primary symptom but is not always present with diabetics, as diagnosis is based upon a cluster of symptoms, blood sugar problems.
After visiting a rheumatologist, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. This was before the present set of medications specifically for the condition. I took medication for sleep, to bring down inflammation, and to help mood. A podiatrist prescribed a special cream for my feet, and a general physician recommended special shampoos and face creams. But the lethargy, aching, and major symptoms remained, although somewhat minimized as I went from doctor to doctor for treatment. But none tested my blood sugar.
After suffering debilitating headaches, on top of other symptoms making it difficult to function, I went to a doctor for assessment and tests. This doctor asked for medical records but said because diagnoses can sometimes be incorrect, she would do complete screening for certain conditions that mirrored fibromyalgia. One of these conditions was diabetes.
When the results came back from testing, I learned I am diabetic. After being placed on diabetic medication and following a regimen of low carbohydrate foods, I found my symptoms all but disappeared. But some of the side effects from long-term diabetes had already caused nerve damage. Had doctors done more thorough lab tests and regular evaluation of symptoms, perhaps there might be a difference in the present outcome of my condition.
My story is one among many people who have treatable conditions not properly diagnosed or where doctors made medical conclusions based upon a particular orientation, specialty or interest of the time. In my case, I had visited specialists in rheumatology, orthopedics, and gynecology whose focus was outside the area of diabetes when an internist trained in working with diabetics may have been sufficient.
These are the symptoms in the conditions of fibromyalgia according to Web MD:
Concentration and memory problems
Discoloration of hands and feet (Raynaud's phenomenon)
Dryness in mouth, nose, and eyes
Irritable bowel syndrome
Painful menstrual cramps
Swelling, numbness, and tingling in hands, arms, feet, and legs
Physicians also maintain people with fibromyalgia have more yeast infections and depression than those without the condition.
Symptoms of diabetes from this same resource
Excessive thirst and appetite
Increased urination (sometimes as often as every hour)
Unusual weight loss or gain
Nausea, perhaps vomiting
In women, frequent vaginal infections
In men and women, yeast infections
Slow-healing sores or cuts
Itching skin, especially in the groin or vaginal area
It has been found people with diabetes are twice as likely to suffer from depression as non-diabetics. As has been noted earlier, fibromyalgia patients are often seen with depression. Research has also established sleep problems to be frequent among diabetics. Skin complications are one of the concerns, and low blood sugar can cause headaches. Digestive problems can be part of the condition of diabetes as a result of nerve damage. This is also one of the hallmarks of fibromyalgia as well.
The value of having a complete diagnosis, to include lab tests, is critical in preventing wrong diagnoses where the patients end up having complications, which is often the case with diabetes. Given the symptom parallels in diabetes and fibromyalgia, that patients and even their doctors may not properly assess, the information about both conditions can be of consequence in addition to undergoing comprehensive evaluation to include testing blood sugar. This can often be the definitive explanation for certain symptoms that can put the patient on the right track for getting help and prevent serious side effects from developing, as is the case with diabetes.