When It’s Not The Flu: A Life-threatening Illness That Is Commonly Misdiagnosed

when it's not the flu - life threatening illness

It is fairly common when someone becomes thirsty, tired, nauseous, or begins vomiting they’re diagnosed with the flu. While it very may well be the flu, it could also be Type 1 Diabetes and should always be ruled out. Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the beta cells in the pancreas and therefore can no longer produce insulin.

Type 1 Diabetes isn’t always the first cause that comes to mind because diabetes is thought to be linked to diet and obesity. But Type 1 Diabetes is not a result of lifestyle choices. There is no known cause or cure at this time. But researchers believe genetics and environmental factors can play a role in the onset.

Normally Type 1 Diabetes isn’t considered until the adult or child is severely ill with DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis). Diabetic Ketoacidosis is a toxic condition where the blood sugar levels rise and can’t distribute energy to the cells in the body due to lack of insulin.

For someone that was initially diagnosed with the flu, they would soon notice the symptoms not getting better but progressively worse; over a few days to weeks. However, time is very crucial to begin treatment for diabetes in order to avoid varies complications or death.

Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes can come on suddenly

There has been many cases where a patient has been sent home with the flu. Without further evaluating if it could possibly be Type 1 Diabetes. A mother of type 1 diabetic (Amy Waddington) shares about her son’s diagnosis and hopes her story can help educate and inform others of Type 1 Diabetes and the symptoms to be aware of.

Mother states: 

“3 years ago he was 13. He was eating and drinking like a typical teenager yet he was fading away. He had energy of a 90 year old man, he was pale, his eyes were sunken in, his clothes were hanging off his bony body because he had lost about 15 pounds. We took him to his pediatrician, desperately wanting answers. We were told to “bring him back next week if he still wasn’t feeling well.”

“Two days later, my dear friend came over. She looked at my son and instantly started sobbing. It was then when I realized I wasn’t waiting until next week. I quickly took him to the emergency room. The triage nurse took one look at him and asked me if he was diabetic. Of course I said no. She said she smelled a fruity odor on his breath. I wasn’t really sure what she meant by that. She immediately rushed us to the back…within seconds of getting there they were pumping insulin into his failing body. I felt like I was watching the show ER…it was so scary.”

not the flu - type 1 diabetes symptoms“I did not know then, what I know now. We could of lost our son that night, or that weekend had we not taken him to the hospital when we did. His body was starving for insulin. His pancreas was no longer producing it. One more day without insulin and our story could be different. I believe God used my friend to spare my son’s life and he is now using us to share our story & educate people about this horrible disease.”

If you or your child are experiencing these symptoms, consult with your physician immediately for further testing.

All it takes is a simple blood glucose test that takes 2 seconds to rule out diabetes. To have an accurate diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes a test for the diabetes-related (islet) autoantibodies is necessary. Once starting insulin therapy, monitoring blood glucose levels, and consulting regularly with an endocrinologist; Type 1 Diabetes can be well managed.

“The misdiagnosis of type 1 diabetes is on the rise. Educate yourself, your family and your friends on the signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes as minutes make all the difference.” –Dancing4Diabetes

For more information on Type 1 Diabetes:

http://www.jdrf.org/about/about-type-1-diabetes-t1d/

https://beyondtype1.org/what-is-t1d/

http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/recently-diagnosed/

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