Medical Matters > Diabetes

ME Essential Summer 2018

Question

Knowing that lack of exercise and weight gain are two things that increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, is this type of diabetes more common in people with ME? I ask because I noticed I was getting thirsty, drinking more water than usual, and was also passing urine more frequently. I went to see my GP for some blood and urine tests and she confirmed that I had developed type 2 (non insulin requiring) diabetes. The good news is that a change in diet and weight loss are definitely bringing things under control and it doesn’t look as though I am going to need treating with drugs.

Answer

Although the evidence is only anecdotal, we do receive fairly regular reports about people with ME/CFS going on to develop type 2 diabetes. I suspect that type 2 diabetes may be slightly more common in some groups of people who have ME/CFS. I don’t think this is hormone related – because there is no evidence of pancreatic disease in ME/CFS. It is much more likely to be an effect of the changes in lifestyle that often occur as a result of having ME/ CFS – decreased levels of activity and weight gain in particular.

There is, incidentally, no sound research evidence to suggest that type 1 diabetes (insulin requiring) is more common in ME/CFS. But it would be interesting to do some proper research on the incidence of type 2 diabetes and ME/CFS – so we might start with an ME Association website survey. One of the main symptoms of diabetes is fatigue – so having both ME/CFS and diabetes will almost certainly exacerbate fatigue levels.

The NHS

Diabetes: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments | July 2019

Diabetes is a lifelong condition that causes a person's blood sugar level to become too high. There are 2 main types of diabetes:

    • type 1 diabetes – where the body's immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin.
    • type 2 diabetes – where the body does not produce enough insulin, or the body's cells do not react to insulin.

Type 2 diabetes is far more common than type 1. In the UK, around 90% of all adults with diabetes have type 2. During pregnancy, some women have such high levels of blood glucose that their body is unable to produce enough insulin to absorb it all. This is known as gestational diabetes.

More information

MEDICAL DISCLAIMER

Medical Matters is for information purposes only. The answers provided by Dr Shepherd and the ME Association’s other expert advisers should not be construed as medical advice. We recommend that any information you deem relevant is discussed with your GP as soon as possible. It is important to obtain advice from a GP who is in charge of your clinical care, who knows you well, and who can consider other likely causes for symptoms. Seek personalised medical advice whenever a new symptom arises, or an existing symptom worsens. Don't assume that new or worsened symptoms are a result of having ME/CFS.

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