During adolescence and teenage years, children face a number of hormonal, emotional and physical changes. Teenage health issues may arise that are different from the problems they faced as young children, and they may also be less willing to share with parents. Some common issues faced by teens:
- Weight problems: Children who were considered plump can grow into overweight or obese teenagers as they begin to be less active, snack on unhealthy food, and spend more time in sedentary activities alone or with friends. Overweight teens are one of the most common teenage health issues. Discussing diet options with them may be difficult, especially if their weight is a sensitive issue. Instead, keep the fridge stocked with healthy and low-fat food options, as well as plenty of fruit, vegetables and juice
- Eating Disorders: With teenage years come increased peer pressure and heightened sensitivity to the opposite sex and to the media’s norm of an attractive man or woman. These years are the most common age for eating disorders to set in: anorexia, bulimia and a range of other complications can affect the health of a teenager. If you suspect an eating disorder, it is best to get medical advice or counseling from adolescent health careauthorities.
- Body Image: As teenagers feel their bodies mature into adults, they begin to take more control over their privacy and self-expression. Wanting to get body parts pierced or tattoos done is a way to create an identity of their own. Most teenagers are very body conscious and many do not like their bodies or appearances. Counseling can help, as will discussing the health of adolescents, more active lifestyles and possibly a change of wardrobe.
- Skin Problems: Teen skin faces the brunt of all the hormonal changes that the body goes through. With excess oil production and perspiration, as well as sudden increase in use of make-up and beauty products, skin can get inflamed and develop pimples or acne. This teenage health issue causes a great deal of self-conscious suffering for adolescents. Encourage teens to wash their faces often and maintain hygiene, or get medical help if prescriptions are needed. Another problem during this time is the appearance of stretch marks as bodies grow rapidly, or skin rashes caused by tanning, shaving or hair removal.
- Sexual Health: As parents, facing the idea of adolescents engaging in consensual sexual activity is a daunting, if not frightening one. However, teenagers today are more sexually aware and more sexually active than previous generations. Discussing puberty and maturation of the body is usually not as difficult as discussing sexual health and related issues. If you are not comfortable talking to your child about their sexuality, let them talk to a doctor, counselor or adolescent health care expert. Teens need to know about STDs, teenage pregnancy, birth control and sexual cleanliness.
- Depression and Stress: Adolescent health care often deals with teenagers who are susceptible to stress and depression as they grow and mature. Treating teen depression as something ‘they’ll grow out of’ when it is serious clinical depression can cause effects that last well into adulthood. Teen suicides are often ascribed to depression or a feeling of isolation. If you suspect your child is depressed, talking to a counselor or medical expert is recommended.
- Addictions: The health of adolescents as well as their lives can be seriously affected by an addiction. Teenagers may experiment with tobacco, drugs and alcohol either because of peer pressure or out of curiosity. A teenager who has discussed these habits and their ill effects with parents, and who has been made aware of the dangers is less likely to let an experiment develop into a habit. If you feel your child has developed an addiction or a habit, enrolling them in counseling is a good option.
- Teens Health – Kids Health
- Teenagers: How to Stay Healthy – Family Doctor