Integrated Family Community Services 3370 South Irving Street, Englewood, CO 80110-1816 Ph: 303-789-0501

Adolescent Ailments: Teen Health 101 for Parents

Being a parent can be extremely rewarding, but also trying, especially during the teenage years. Even though we were once teenagers ourselves, the issues affecting youth today are quite different from those of our own childhoods. Understanding the health issues that modern teenagers face can help you not only identify possible health concerns, but also provide you with a pathway for treatment. There are four common heath ailments that affect young people today that are of particular concern and parents should be alert for them. Keep reading to see if your child could fall into one of these categories, and how to address the issue at hand.

Teenage Obesity

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than one-third of adolescents are considered to be overweight or obese. Depending on the age, height and sex of your child, being obese means that you are carrying too much extra weight for your body type and it is a serious health risk. Why are so many children obese in America today? The overabundance and easy access to fast food, lack of exercise, and hours spent sitting in front of the TV can all attribute to the obesity epidemic. If you are concerned about your teenager’s weight, it is time to visit a doctor to get some testing done. Of all of the health concerns that could affect teenagers, this is one that is most easily remedied through a change in diet, exercise and attitude.

Eating Disorders

As their bodies change, teenagers find themselves in the unique position of getting used to new developments. While this can be disconcerting in itself, the self-image they are developing is now complicated by what the media portrays as the “correct” body type for both men and women. It is easy for many to become confused about what the “right” body type is and be drawn into an unhealthy relationship with food and exercise. To counter this, monitor the media that enters your teen’s life—does it promote health and body positivity? If not, think twice about its presence in your home.

Substance Abuse

When entering middle school and high school, the pressure to partake in drugs and alcohol may increase for teenagers. Depending on their social circles, there may be a constant push to try alcohol, and for some teenagers, this may be the beginning of an abusive cycle with legal and illegal substances. If you suspect that your child has a problem with alcohol or drug dependency, it is important to seek medical help immediately. Whether you choose an in-house rehab facility or counseling, substance abuse in teenagers is no joke and should be addressed as soon as possible.

Vision Problems

After spending hours starting at cell phones, computer screens and TVs, your eyes can start to cross. However, when your teenager complains about having blurry vision, it may not just be overuse of digital devices. One in four teenagers will require vision correction—is your child one of them? This can lead to problems at school, with studying, learning how to drive, playing sports and so much more. If you notice that your child is squinting a lot, complaining of headaches or blurry vision, it is time to visit an optometrist. Teens who require vision correction should be monitored to make sure they’re using their visual aids correctly. While glasses may be in style this year, some teens may see them as unfashionable and refuse to wear them. Contact lenses can solve this problem, but can also be tricky for teens. According to a specialist from All About Eyes, between 40-90% of contact lens wearers don’t follow the care instructions for their lenses. Make sure your teen is educated on the importance of keeping their contacts clean and storing them properly.

The key to ensuring the health of your teenager is keeping open lines of communication. While this is a time in their lives that they may not want to talk to you, their parents, you should keep trying even when there is resistance. If you feel that there is a health issue and you simply cannot get your teen to open up to you, you should consider scheduling an appointment with your family doctor and/or a therapist. Tackling teen health issues at the beginning can get your teen back on track to a happy and health childhood.

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