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Teens: Emotional, Mental and Physical Health

Personal Hygiene

Unfortunately, as teenagers bodies begin to mature and change there are some unpleasant side effects that require proper personal hygiene. With changes in hormones, the growth of hair, start of menstruation, and acne it is important to make sure your teen is practicing good personal hygiene not only for their health but for the health of the whole family. As a teens body changes to accommodate their transition to adulthood they often begin to smell and trying to talk to your teen about this may be met with anger and frustration but don’t be deterred it is important that teens follow some simple hygiene rules, shower every day, wash hair at least every other day, use deodorant, brush and floss teeth, change clothes daily or more than once a day if doing an activity that involves sweating, and how to properly shave. While this may be a sensitive subject with your teen it is important to let them know that maintaining proper personal hygiene can help prevent embarrassing smells, rashes, and infections.

Vaccines

It is important to remember that just because your child is now a teenager there are still vaccinations that need to be done to ensure their health and safety. If your child plans on going to college you will need to make sure they are up to date on all their vaccines as part of college enrollment. One important vaccine to make sure your teen receives is the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) which infects millions of people and can cause cancer. One vaccine that should be administered yearly is influenza or flu vaccine. Influenza is highly contagious and can become severe enough to require hospitalization and can also be deadly. By receiving the influenza vaccine yearly you can reduce your child’s chances of contracting influenza and reduce the severity of the disease if they do contract it.

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Teen Acne

One of the most common skin conditions among teens is acne. Acne can be caused by many sources and some include hormonal changes, medication, stress, makeup, and genetics. Acne appears as red painful bumps, bumps with a white head, and bumps with a black head. It is important to address your teen’s acne as it occurs at a time when their looks and how others view them is very important and it can lead to low self-esteem and depression. Mild cases of acne can be treated with over the counter treatments while more severe cases may require a visit to your teen’s primary care physician or dermatologist for prescription medication to clear up the problem. To help your teen control acne breakouts and prevent severe ones it is important that they do not squeeze the acne as it is caused by bacteria and by squeezing the acne they are spreading the bacteria which can cause more acne to occur and may leave them with scars, if your teen wears makeup it is important that they are using oil-free products that will not clog their pores, and your teen must resist the urge to over-wash or wash with harsh products because they may actually be doing more harm than good because if their body senses the skin is dry or irritated it will produce more oil leading to increased acne.

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Concussions

One health condition that can occur to your teenager is a concussion. Concussions are nothing to mess around with and should be addressed by your physician immediately if you suspect your teen may have one. A concussion is an injury to the brain that occurs when the brain moves inside the skull and makes contact with the skull causing injury. If not treated properly concussions can have long-term effects on the brain and may impair your teen’s behavior, ability to think, cause vertigo, and even fatal brain swelling. While most people associate concussions with sports injuries like those sustained in contact sports like football, concussions can occur anytime there is a trauma to the head and can include falling, whiplash, motor vehicle or all-terrain vehicle crash, physical fight, and of course contact sports injuries. Recognizing the symptoms of a concussion is imperative to getting proper treatment and the signs of a concussion can include a headache, nausea, slurred speech, dizziness, confusion, vomiting, and fatigue. Signs of a concussion may not be immediate so it is important to monitor your teen and seek medical treatment if you suspect they have a concussion even if you think it is mild, it is always better to be safe than sorry especially when you are dealing with the health of your teenager.

Dental Care

It is important to make sure your teen is taking care of their teeth by brushing, flossing, and getting regular dental cleanings. By the time your child has become a teenager they are often responsible for their own oral care routine and face challenges that younger children do not that can include braces, high sugar diets, smoking, wisdom teeth, mouth piercings, mouth tattoos, and eating disorders. It is important to not only discuss the importance of oral health with your teen and the long-term consequences of not taking care of your teeth as well as making sure they are regularly seeing the dentist help avoid any potential problems.

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Smoking

Smoking is not only expensive and unhealthy it can lead to a long-term addiction that most teens don’t think will happen to them. Often teenagers feel invincible and have that attitude that they are immune to certain addictions or that they will be able to stop anytime they want, but this type of thinking is what causes teens to make bad decisions. Nicotine is addictive and use of products that contain nicotine can lead to serious health issues. There are different types of nicotine products and they all have harmful effects on the body and include electronic cigarettes, chewing tobacco, cigars, smokeless tobacco, and clove cigarettes. It is important to discuss with your teen the serious health problems that are associated with using tobacco products and include cancer, gum disease, loss of teeth, emphysema, as well as the loss of taste and smell. Instead of trying to quit later it is best to just never start.

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Alcohol

Many teenagers will be exposed to alcohol consumption at some point or another so it is important to talk with your teen and let them know the facts about alcohol. Many teens grow up around family members that drink alcohol and see television shows and movies where the consumption of alcohol seems like no big deal so it is important that parents sit down and discuss the dangers and side effects that can occur when consuming alcohol. While different alcoholic drinks contain different amounts of alcohol it is important to let your teen know that even small amounts of alcohol impair judgment and consuming large amounts of alcohol can lead to alcohol poisoning and death. Not only is drinking alcohol prior to age 21 illegal and you can be arrested for it, a teens brain is still developing and consuming alcohol can have long-term effects on the brain and lead to alcoholism. Consuming alcohol can lead to bad decisions that can put your teen at risk of being assaulted, robbed, raped or alcohol-related traffic accident. It is also important to talk to your teen about peer pressure and how it can lead to teens making bad decisions like consuming alcohol and if they do give in to peer pressure be sure to discuss alternatives with your teen like calling a parent or family member for a ride home without consequences of being punished to ensure that your teen does not decide to drive home or get into a car with another impaired driver because they are afraid they will get in trouble.

Drugs

One serious health issue that teens are faced with is drug use. Drugs come in many forms and many can be found at home so it is important to discuss with your teen the problems and health issues associated with drug use. Some of the most common drugs teens may come into contact with are marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, prescription drugs, inhalants, and cold medicines. While most teens know and understand that it is dangerous to take drugs like cocaine and heroin, they are often confused by how dangerous prescription drugs or cold medicines can be. Just because a drug is sold at a pharmacy and not on a street corner does not make it any less addictive or dangerous to use. Statistically speaking around 50% of teenagers have used drugs at least once in their life, 28.6% of high school seniors have used drugs within the last year, and 7.5% of teens have smoked marijuana for the first time before they reached the age of 13. Making your teen aware of all the possible drugs and their negative effects on their health will help them make good decisions when they are faced with the option of taking drugs and keep them from becoming a statistic.

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Steroids

If your teen is involved in sports or likes to work out with friends they may come in contact with steroid use. Steroids come in several forms and include anabolic, cortisol, estrogen, and progesterone and are used to help increase muscle mass, strength, and improved athletic performance. Teens who use steroids can have serious and long-term health effects that include aggression, paranoia, delusions, high blood pressure, liver disease, kidney failure, enlarged heart, severe acne, infertility, testicle shrinkage and breast growth in males, facial hair and voice deepening in females, and stunted growth. It is important to talk to your teen about steroids and their negative effects to ensure that your teen does not choose or get pressured into using steroids.

Sexual Activity

While it may be an uncomfortable topic it is important to discuss with your teenager the risks and consequences associated with sexual activity. Teenagers are going through hormonal changes and their bodies are changing and making them look and feel like adults, but their brains are far from full development and they lack the ability to fully understand the long-term effects sexual activity can have. Statistics show that 41% of high school students have had sex and among that 43 % had unprotected sex. Most teens biggest concern is pregnancy, but there are far more serious consequences to unprotected sex that include Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or AIDS, Sexually Transmitted Diseases or STD’s that include syphilis, gonorrhea, and Chlamydia, that can lead to infertility, cancer, cardiovascular and neurological problems, and death. It is important to stress to your teen that having unprotected sex even once can cause them to contract a sexually transmitted disease or cause an unplanned pregnancy. While it is best to try to have your teen abstain from sexual activity until they are older this may not be realistic so it is important to make sure if they are going to engage in sexual activity they use protection every time.

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While the sensitive subject matter involved with talking to your teenager about their bodies and health issues may be uncomfortable for both you and them, it is far better to have several uncomfortable conversations than to allow your teen to try and navigate these issues on their own. Unfortunately teenagers face several potential dangers to their health and well being that they do not have the ability to fully comprehend so as a parent it is up to you to make sure your teen is equipped to handle these situations and that they are comfortable enough with you to discuss any problems or situations they are having. The best way to keep your teen safe is through open communication some subjects like acne may be easy to talk to your teen about, but more sensitive topics like sexual activity or drug use may be harder to talk about they are no less important and making sure your teen gets the right information is essential to their growing and maturing into a healthy adult.


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