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Revisiting One's Youth
May 2001

Q. I just turned 24 about a month ago, and I've started experiencing symptoms reminiscent of puberty. My face has started to break out again and last week my nipples started burning, which happened often during my early teen years. As a guy, I don't know how normal that is suppose to be... and this is the first time I've questioned it. I'm also thirsty and feel tired a lot and right now my muscles are very achy for no good reason. I'm a relaxed person, not stressed. I exercise sometimes (3 times a week usually), not on a regular basis, but I consider myself a fit guy at 6'1", 165 lbs.

Last time I went for a check up (4 months ago), my blood work came back fine. My blood sugar was a little high, they tested me for diabetes but that was a negative. The only medical problem that I know of is somewhat of a caffeine addiction. I've recently realized that if I don't have at least one cup of tea a day, I get bad headaches. My question is, is there such a thing like a second puberty... or should I seek out a doctor... or should I even be concerned at all?

A. Your symptoms do raise some concerns, and further evaluation would be a good idea. The complexion problems by themselves would still be fairly common at your age, and do not necessarily mean there is any more serious problem. Most young people with acne have some hereditary factors which make them susceptible, and further studies of their endocrine gland system do not show any other abnormalities.

The thirst can be a sign of diabetes, so it was well that diabetes was checked for on your exam. The test may need repeating. The thirst occurs when sugar levels in the blood are too high, and the brain centers that send the signals for thirst get activated, attempting to keep the concentration of substances in the blood at a normal dilution.

One cup of tea per day is not at all worrisome. Caffeine has been studied extensively and little harm has been found with common levels of consumption.

Stress can mimic many of the symptoms you describe, but let your doctor check things out before attributing matters to stress alone.

HELPFUL WEBSITES:

http://www.nih.gov/niams/healthinfo/acne/acne.htm

http://www.diabetes.org/

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