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Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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What causes lethargy, sleepiness, frequent urination and weakness in an elderly diagnosed as pre-diabetic?

Answered by
Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :1991

Answered : 3131 Questions

Posted on Thu, 13 Sep 2018 in General Health
Question: My mother is 87. For the last few weeks she had been feeling very tired, sleeping a lot and been very week. She needs help going to the bathroom. I had to leave the house and came back about 6 hours later and found her sitting on the toilet. She did not have the strength to get off the toilet. I was able get a portable toilet riser with supporting handles and it now better. She is also needed to go to the bathroom quite often. Because she was feeling like this for a while, I took her to the doc. The result of the exam, which included blood, was that she was pre-diabetic & dehydrated. The advise was she needed to be more active, drink liquids. Since that exam, about two week ago, she has gotten more tired, sleeping more, going to the bathroom more, still very weak. As a pretend doctor I took some vitals. Her temp was 98.6, PO2 was 97% and Heart beat was 64.
She has not been coughing and respiration looked normal and not labored.
I am concerned that she is even more dehydrated and may be developing complications related to her "pre-diobetic diagnosis. At this point, is my only option the ED and admission to the hospital to given fluids and figure out why she in this condition. One final point, she had the flu shot about a month ago and did not have the flu.

Thank you,


Answered by Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh 39 minutes later
Brief Answer:

Detailed Answer:

I am wondering if your mother's doctor visit included a urinalysis and urine culture. You mentioned that she has been going to the bathroom more, and that can go with a bladder infection.

In the elderly, a bladder infection is more likely to cause complications including sleeping and mental status changes.

I am also wondering if she is on any medications and if blood levels for those have been done, because some meds, in too high of a dose, can cause lethargy and other symptoms.

Pre-diabetes usually does not cause the problems you are describing. Diabetes can, but not pre-diabetes.

If she is worse tonight, then do take her in to the ER.

If her symptoms are fairly stable, then take her back to her doctor and demand that more be looked into including thyroid hormone level if not already tested, EKG with a rhythm strip, and blood levels of her medications if she is on any that can be tested.

But do make sure her urine is checked soon, tonight even, if she is having more lethargy or confusion.

If you do take her in to the ER, as there is flu going around (everywhere in the US) and the flu shot this year is not especially effective, make sure that you and she do not touch your eyes or nose until you get home and thoroughly wash your hands with soap.

While in the ER, avoid touching surfaces and if you then need to touch your face, alcohol gel your hands first. And alcohol wipe your cell phone or anything else you used while in the ER, when you get home.

I hope this information helps.

Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh, General & Family Physician
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar

The User accepted the expert's answer

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