Are You a Diabetic?
Bonnie Erikson* of Glendale, California had a boil in an embarrassing place. The ugly, pus-filled sore was on her groin. She tried to lance the boil, and when that didn't work, hot soaks with baking soda, but the boil persisted in growing larger and scarier. At last, Bonnie had no choice but to make an appointment with her gynecologist. She wasn't about to show her groin to the family doctor.
Bonnie was surprised to discover that her doctor wanted to check her glucose levels. "He said that I had a furuncle and that they can be a symptom of diabetes. I was shocked. I went in for this stupid boil and came out thinking I might have a life-threatening disease.
I wasn't embarrassed anymore. Just scared."
Sure enough, Bonnie had very high levels of glucose in her blood and she is now being treated with injectable insulin for her diabetes. She's also made major changes to her diet and has worked hard to lose weight. "If I hadn't had that furuncle, I never would have thought to be tested for diabetes. I guess that gross sore saved my life."
Bonnie's doctor knew that diabetes can make it difficult for the body to fight infection, including skin infections caused by bacteria. Recurring boils can be a symptom of uncontrolled diabetes, most often in the over 40 crowd. If you have recurrent infections, you should be tested for diabetes and other illnesses that may weaken your immune system.
Boils tend to occur in diabetics who are being treated with insulin injections, but often, a doctor will make an initial diagnosis of diabetes as the result of further testing when treating a patient for a boil.
Boils and abscesses in diabetics or patients with other underlying illnesses should be seen by a doctor since these may be a sign of a worsening of the disease. Diabetes and other diseases lower resistance to infection, so people with diabetes do have an increased sensitivity to bacterial skin infections.
Test Your Glucose
If you have a boil, it's worth your while discussing this with your doctor and getting screened for diabetes. This is all the more true of those who have a family history of the disease. A glucose test may just save your life. Bonnie's glad she found out in time. Take a leaf from her book and if you have a boil, ask your doctor to screen you for diabetes.
* Not her real name