“Normal” growth symptoms turn out to be warning sign of a serious illness
"In my wildest imagination, I wouldn't have guessed this diagnosis. Know these basic symptoms and look for patterns over time.”
After successfully rearing her two daughters into adulthood, mum Stacey Crescitelli thought the changes her 14-year-old son Henry was experiencing were normal.
“His body was changing,” the mother told TODAY Parents. “He has always been kind of a solid boy with a large frame—never one of those reed thin, gangly boys—but suddenly, he was becoming one.”
After all, these were commonplace signs of adolescence—or so Stacey and husband Joe thought.
It wasn’t until Henry began exhibiting new and alarming symptoms did the Pennsylvania parents started to worry.
Suddenly the teen was experiencing vertigo, frequent headaches, dizziness, stomach aches.
“One minute he was in the kitchen getting water, and the next he was asking me to help him to the couch because he couldn’t walk or focus his eyes,” Stacey said.
Then his legs started aching.
“We assured him that this was normal when someone was growing rapidly and that he could try to stretch and maybe not sleep with the giant family dog so he could have more room at night.”
When Henry lost 25 pounds, Stacey and Joe decided to take action.
“My husband and I suspected maybe he was depressed, until one night Joe just looked at me and we both kind of knew that something now was very wrong.”
They called their nurse practitioner and had their son’s blood and urine tested.
Henry was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. By the time he diagnosis, he had gone into a full-blown diabetic ketoacidosis. He had to be hospitalised at the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania for four days until he was stabilised.
Find out more about Type 1 Diabetes on the next page.
According to American Diabetes Association, Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a serious condition that can lead to diabetic coma (passing out for a long time) or even death.
Common signs of Type 1 diabetes include increased fatigue, nausea and abdominal pain, and blurry vision. A person with such a condition may also experience increased thirst and hunger, increased urination, and signs of dehydration.
In hindsight, Stacey said that while teenagers do grow, they’re not supposed to lose significant amounts of weight during growth spurts.
“In my wildest imagination, I wouldn’t have guessed this diagnosis,” the mother said. “Know these basic symptoms and look for patterns over time.”
Meanwhile, according to Dr. Nirali Patel, a pediatric emergency medicine physician at Akron Children’s Hospital in Ohio, recognition of these symptoms may be hard. Especially because they’re similar to what teens in general experience.
“However, it is the appearance of multiple symptoms—symptoms that are out of proportion relative to the teen’s baseline behavior or the emergence of new behaviors—that should alert parents that there may be an underlying medical issue.”
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