Adolescence is a transitional phase during which children grow to become young adults. Although adolescents are generally healthy and this period is not associated with any specific diseases, it is actually a crucial phase in a person’s life marked by rapid and important changes. For all of these reasons and more, medical supervision and care are a necessity during adolescence, to ensure the healthiest transition into adulthood.
To ensure that your adolescent child is perfectly healthy and transitioning well into adulthood, contact us today to book your appointment. The doctors at Pediatrics of Sugarland will provide the adolescent (and their parents) with the best care possible.
Health and adolescents, FAQs and guidance for parents
What is adolescence?
According to the World Health Organization, adolescence is a phase of life between childhood and adulthood, from ages 10 to 19 years old. Adolescence is difficult because adolescents can feel marginalized as they are neither children nor adults.
Furthermore, many physical, mental, hormonal, emotional, and social changes occur during adolescence, which can make it even harder for these aspiring adults to adapt.
How Can I Help My Son Or Daughter Have Healthy Adolescence?
– Physical changes:
Perhaps the most striking change during adolescence is that on the physical level. Since the body grows so rapidly during this period, it’s important to educate adolescents and their families on the importance of a nutritious diet, a healthy sleep schedule, and regular physical activity to avoid any nutritional deficiencies, health problems, or stunted growth.
– Mental changes:
The body isn’t the only thing growing at a rapid rate during adolescence, because so is the brain. During this period, the brain matures and certain areas further develop, thus the importance of a diet that supports the development of a healthy nervous system. Additionally, a safe and supportive environment is also necessary for the brain to fully develop, and will encourage intellectual growth and cognitive maturation.
– Reproductive changes:
Both male and female reproductive organs develop during adolescence. Young women experience menstruation and both genders will experience sexual maturation or puberty and will become more curious about sexual relationships. During this period, a visit to the doctor’s office is necessary to make sure that the child’s sexual maturation is healthy and normal and to answer any questions they may have.
– Emotional and social changes:
Adolescence can be an emotional rollercoaster, not only because of the hormonal imbalances associated with this period but also because of different changes to the adolescent’s personality, identity, ego, and how they view themselves.
What kind of health problems can affect adolescents?
Adolescence is usually a period of optimal health and wellbeing, but adolescents can also have their share of health problems:
– Acne and dermatological conditions:
The hormonal imbalances associated with puberty and adolescence can be responsible for excessive sebum production. This will in turn cause a variety of dermatological conditions, like acne, hair dandruff as well as oily skin and hair.
– Dental and oral health conditions:
The consequences of poor oral hygiene during childhood will begin to show by adolescence. Aside from cavities and poor gum health, adolescents may also struggle with misaligned teeth, uneven bite, and complications caused by wisdom teeth.
– Reproductive issues:
Reproductive issues during adolescence range from insufficient sexual maturation during puberty, menstruation-related health complaints in young women, to sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies.
– Psychiatric issues:
Adolescence can be a taxing period on a person’s mental health. The hormonal rollercoaster, the acne, the braces, and the bullying can negatively affect an adolescent’s self-esteem.
Furthermore, adolescence is usually a time of experimentation, and as a result, many adolescents may try drugs at this time. This could be a risk factor for developing certain psychiatric disorders or suffering from substance abuse disorders.
– Obesity and eating disorders:
A sedentary lifestyle coupled with an abundance of convenient and calorie-dense foods is a recipe for disaster. Now more than ever, childhood and adolescence obesity rates are the highest they’ve ever been.
Furthermore, adolescents may also develop certain eating disorders around this time, either as a result of unhealthy coping mechanisms or as a consequence of low self-esteem and constantly comparing themselves to others.
– Autoimmune diseases:
Last but not least, certain chronic auto-immune or inflammatory conditions may show their first symptoms around this time. This is the case for digestive conditions such as Crohn’s disease, or even multiple sclerosis.
What’s the importance of the right medical care during adolescence?
Medical supervision can be helpful during adolescence for a variety of reasons:
– Ensuring a healthy transition into adulthood:
A doctor will be able to give the adolescent the tools and guidance they need to transition safely and happily into adulthood. Such tools include the importance of keeping good hygiene and good oral care, encouraging healthcare-seeking behavior, becoming an active community member, learning soft skills like emotional intelligence, and healthy ways to cope with stress. During this time, a physician will also be able to detect any health problems, substance abuse, and risky behaviors.
– Reproductive health education:
During this period, adolescents will need to be educated on subjects like menstruation, reproductive health, and safe sex. This will minimize the risk of unwanted pregnancies and will prevent sexually transmitted infections.
– Educating the parents:
Medical care and supervision are important during adolescence because the doctor will not only take care of medical problems, they will also help educate the parents on how to treat their adolescent child.
A doctor will help the parents better navigate their child’s adolescence period, encouraging them to respect their adolescent’s privacy, to give them their space, to help them build an identity, and to always make them feel safe and supported.