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Teens Health Related precautions

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The teen years are a time of growth that involves experimentation and risk taking. For some teens, the social pressures of trying to fit in can be too much. These years can be even more troubling for teens who are confronted with teenage substance abuse, violence,bullying, delinquency, suicide, depression, unintentional injuries, pregnancy, and school failure. Parents often walk a tightrope between allowing their teenager to gain some independence and helping them to deal with their feelings during this difficult and challenging time in their lives.

Teenagers recognize that they are developmentally between childhood and adulthood. Emerging cognitive abilities and social experiences lead teens to question adult values and experiment with health risk behaviors. Some behaviors threaten current health, while other behaviors may have long-term health consequences. The changes in cognitive abilities offer an opportunity to help teenagers develop attitudes and lifestyles that can enhance their health and well-being. Teen disease prevention includes maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly, preventing injuries, and screening annually for potential health conditions that could adversely affect teenage health.

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     Annual checkups for teenagers provide an opportunity for the following:

  • Promote healthy lifestyle choices that include nutrition and exercise. Many teens maintain a diet high in saturated fats and low in complex carbohydrates (fruits and vegetables) and milk and other dairy products. Adolescents should have at least 60 minutes of vigorous exercise per day. Unfortunately, many teens experience less that this goal per week while utilizing social media (Internet, text messaging, Facebook, etc.) for greater than three hours per day.
  • Screen sexually active teenagers for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and HIV. Many young people engage in sexual risk behaviors that can result in unintended health outcomes.
  • Assess whether teen has an eating disorder such    as anorexia nervosa, bulimia, or obesity. This assessment is reached by determining weight and stature and asking about body image and dieting patterns. The obesity epidemic is real since children between 2 to 19 years of age are overweight. This value has tripled since 1980. The flip side of this issue is the prevalence of eating disorders. More than one-half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives.
  • Discover if teenager is experiencing emotional problems such as depression or anxiety. Several studies have determined that 3%-5% of teens will experience a bout of clinical depression. Warning signs include

(1) Low interest in pleasurable activities,

(2) Change in appetite — weight loss or weight gain,

(3) Insomnia or hyper-insomnia,

(4) Fatigue/loss of energy,

(5) Decrease in concentration skills which may be reflected academically, and

(6) Thoughts of death, suicide ideation, and/or attempts.

Ask teenager if they have a history of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, as well as bullying. Bullying is one of the biggest challenges that teens are facing. Unfortunately, many teens are forced to deal with bullying while their parents and teachers are unaware on the specific nature and severity of the problem in their school. However, progressively more frequent cases of “cyber bullying” using social media are replacing the overt verbal threat and/or physical assault that is the more traditional experience in past years.

  • Discuss the health risks of smoking, alcohol abuse, and other drug abuses (including anabolic steroids). Teens smoke cigarettes with the huge majority are aware of the immediate and long-term associated health risks.
  • Ask teens about learning or school problems to determine if they need special counseling.
  • Screen teenagers who have a history of absences or declining school performance for dyslexia, learning disabilities, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
  • Identify signs and symptoms of disease, illness, and health conditions. Most studies indicate that the majority of teens suffer from sleep deprivation. Specialists recommend the average teen requires eight hours of quality sleep per night. Many teen sleep patterns are disrupted by chronic and excessive caffeine (sodas, coffee, “energy drinks”). Couple this behavior with difficulty turning off electronic lifelines (cell phones and computers) and it is easy to understand that the first two hours of the high school day are often filled with “zoned out” pupils.
  • Screen for high blood pressure. Unlike adults who commonly have “primary” or “essential” hypertension, children and teens suffering from high blood pressure need a vigorous evaluation in an attempt to locate a primary cause.
  • Test teenager’s cholesterol level if their parents have a serum cholesterol level greater than 180 mg/dl. Study indicates that 14% of normal weight teens and 43% of overweight teens have elevated cholesterol levels.
  • Screen teenagers who have multiple risk factors for future cardiovascular disease (for example, smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus, excessive consumption of dietary saturated fats and cholesterol) for total serum cholesterol level.
  • Assess health risk factors for overweight teenagers to determine their risk for future cardiovascular disease.

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Pressure Pressure ….

While talking to any teen, one word that repeatedly comes up in the conversation is “pressure”. It could be pressure to do well in studies, pressure to get into a good college, pressure to dress appropriately, pressure to fit into a group so on and so forth.

It’s little wonder that teens are grappling with a myriad of problems such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, suicide and more – all of which arise due to their inability to handle such pressure.

Simply put, pressure is the perceived force that pushes a teenager to act in a certain way, sometimes against his or her wishes. In most cases, this pressure comes from external factors and entities such as parents, society, education system and friends.

Teen’s have following types of Pressures which can have adverse effect on their health :

  1. Academic Pressure
  2. Pressure to be successful
  3. Pressure to be fit
  4. Pressure to have perfect appearance
  5. Negative peer pressure
  6. Social Pressure
  7. High parental expectation
  8. Wearing ‘the right’ clothes
  9. Pressure to engage risk taking behaviors
  10. Trying new things which aren’t positive.

Signs to look for in teens feeling under pressure :

As a parent, it’s important you stay on top of your teen’s behavior to notice any of these changes. Some signs to looks for include

  1. Loss of appetite or over eating
  2. Withdrawal from activities your child used to like
  3. Statements about wanting to give up
  4. Sudden changes in behavior
  5. Low moods, tearfulness, or feelings of hopelessness
  6. Sudden change in eating and sleeping habits
  7. Reduced social behavior
  8. Spending too much time in the digital world, as this could mean social isolation
  9. Increased absenteeism in school
  10. Sudden drop in grades and performance
  11. High levels of anger, violence and irritability
  12. Request for unusually high amounts of money
  13. Over-reaction to everyday events and conversations
  14. Feel afraid of rejection

What parents can do :-

First and foremost, keep all communication channels open with your teens. Indicate to them in no uncertain terms that you are there for them whenever they want to discuss anything good , bad, ugly. And yes, never judge them for what they confide in you.

Lower your own anxiety level: Parents are often guilty of passing on second hand stress to their teens. Don’t have undue expectations from your kids and accept the reality that not every child can be a topper or get into the best college.

Refrain from discussing grades or levels of exam preparation all the time. It’s important to understand both for parents and teens that there is more to life than grades or achievements.

If the child feels anxious, convey the message that if one door closes, many others open. Use some positive inspiring examples to put across your point. Teach your teens to accept failure, work on other alternatives and move on.

Talk about your own failures in life and how you dealt with them.

Have open discussions with your teens about how things seen on social media is not always real. Let them know how it’s humanely impossible to be happy or enjoying life all the time. Instagram and Facebook updates don’t always reveal the real story.

Have fun discussing how make up and Photoshop is used to make the actresses/ models look so unrealistically beautiful and how they actually look without makeup etc.

Be a good role model. Let the emphasis be on good health (again no over obsession with good health either) than looking good.

Again be a role model in showing teens “how to self-regulate device usage”

Plan occasional family outings and encourage your teens to bring friends home. This can help your child in providing a relaxing break from the mundane daily routine.

Encourage your teens to sleep enough. No gadgets in the bed rooms is a great rule for the entire family. Good sleep can help your teens cope with the relentless pressure that they are exposed to.

Be open to take professional help if your teen is unable to handle pressure even with the above mentioned interventions

Suggest ways to say ‘No’ Your child might need to have some face-saving ways to say no if he’s feeling influenced to do something he doesn’t want to do

Build up your child’s sense of self esteem  This can help him / her feel more confident to make own decisions and push back on peer influence.

Above measures  will help  reducing pressure on your teens and at the same time prepare them to cope with whatever life throws at them.

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Almost everyone has experienced peer pressure before, either positive or negative. Peer pressure is when your classmates, or other people your age, try to get you to do something. It is so easy to give in to peer pressure because everyone wants to fit in and be liked. Especially when it seems like “everyone is doing it”. Sometimes people give in to peer pressure because they do not want to hurt someone’s feelings or they do not know how to get out of the situation so they just say “yes”.

Following precautions to be taken for improved health :

You can break down the concept of health into different categories. These could include physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral health. There are things any teen can do to stay healthy in these areas. But as a teenager, there are some things you should pay special attention to.

Physical Health –

  • Exercise regularly. Teens should be physically active at least 60 minutes of every day.
  • Keep up with vaccinations. Get a flu shot every year. If you haven’t gotten the HPV vaccine, ask your parents and doctor about it. It can prevent you from getting HPV and some kinds of cancer, including cervical cancer.
  • Don’t listen to loud music. This can damage your hearing for the rest of your life.

Mental Health – 

  • Learn ways to manage stress. You can’t avoid stress, so you need to learn how to manage it. This will help you stay calm and be able to function in stressful situations.
  • Study and do your best in school. There is a strong link between health and academic success.
  • Try to maintain a good relationship with your parents. Remember that they want what is best for you. Try to see where they are coming from when they set rules.
  • Develop a good balance between school, work, and social life.
  • Don’t try to take on too much. Limit your activities to the most important ones and give those 100%. Overextending yourself can lead to stress, frustration, or exhaustion.

Emotional health – 

  • Pay attention to your moods and feelings. Don’t assume your negative thoughts or feelings are just part of being a teenager. If you’re worried about something, ask for help.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. If you can’t talk to your parents, talk to a favorite teacher or counselor at school. Find an adult you can trust. If you’re feeling really sad or are thinking about harming yourself, get help right away.
  • Accept yourself. If you feel like you have low self-esteem or a poor body image, talk to someone about it. Even just talking to a friend can help.
  • Know the signs of mental illness

Behavioral Health –

  • Avoid substance use or abuse. This includes alcohol, street drugs, other people’s prescription drugs, and any type of tobacco product.
  • Avoid violence. Stay away from situations where violence or fighting may cause you to be physically injured.

  Teens should plan their daily routine  as shown below 

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