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One-Third of all Type 1 Cases are Misdiagnosed: New Study
Posted: Wednesday, May 06, 2009
A THIRD of all Type 1 diabetics were initially misdiagnosed as having the more common Type 2 or some other illness, a study shows, and it's a mistake that can be deadly.
People with the rarer form of diabetes produce no insulin at all, meaning they need daily injections and not the less intensive treatments for those with diabetes Type 2.
"It's a 24 to 48-hour process where your body can operate with no insulin before you go into a coma and die," says Kate Gilbert, president of The Type 1 Diabetes Network in Australia who also has the condition.
This error has not been looked at in the U.S. as it probably also occurs more often then we think.
"When you have Type 2 diabetes it is different ... you are still producing insulin but maybe it is not quite enough or it is not working so well."
The support group conducted a poll of more than 850 Australians with Type 1 diabetes and it found a third were misdiagnosed when they first started feeling related symptoms including fatigue, weight loss and blurred vision.
One in 10 in the study reported having a blackout before they were correctly diagnosed, while five percent fell into a diabetic coma.
Of those who were misdiagnosed, 65 percent had to go back to their healthcare professional three or more times before this was corrected.
Ms. Gilbert puts this down to two key factors - the rarity of Type 1 compared to Type 2 diabetes and also a "myth" surrounding its onset.
Type 1 diabetes is relatively rare compared to Type 2 diabetes and GPs don't see a lot of it. It's also because Type 1 diabetes used to be called juvenile diabetes ... there is still this myth that it is a childhood disease and if you get diabetes as an adult it must be Type 2."
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease which switches off insulin production, and while sufferers are born with the genetic fault in half of all cases it is not triggered until adulthood.
Type 2 diabetes is caused by lifestyle issues such as obesity, and in many cases the sufferer still produces enough insulin but they need drugs to help the body process it correctly.
"Don't rule out Type 1 just because a person is an adult," Ms. Gilbert says in a message to GPs.
The study was conducted to mark the five-year anniversary of The Type 1 Diabetes Network's Starter Kit, a support pack for sufferers developed though a Federal grant and now supported by Abbott Diabetes Care.
Source: Diabetes In Control
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