TAKING CARE OF TEENS: Focusing on the unique health needs of teenagers
As the parent of a teenager, your days of wiping runny noses and putting band-aids on boo-boos may be over. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a hand in maintaining your child’s health. You should talk to your your pediatrician or family physician to learn more about screenings or get answer to questions you may have.
Here are a few tips from the experts at Adena Health System for taking care of your teen:
A shot at good health
You may think your child is done with immunizations when they reach school age, but there are some essential vaccines for preteens and teens including these recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):
- Tdap: A combo shot for tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis, also known as whooping cough. Recommended for ages 11-12.
- Meningococcal: Protects against meningococcal disease, also known as meningitis, which can lead to hearing loss, brain damage, and even death. Recommended for ages 11-12, with a booster at 16.
- HPV: Protects against the human papillomavirus infection, which has been linked to cervical cancer, oral cancer, and genital warts. The three-shot series is recommended for both girls and boys starting at age 11, but can be given up until age 26.
- Flu: Annual flu shot for any child older than 6 months.
Build good habits
It’s never too early to teach children good health behaviors such as:
- Get at least 1,300 mg of calcium daily. Building strong bones is essential now to help prevent problems such as osteoporosis later in life.
- Always buckle up in the car, and never ride with a driver who has been drinking alcohol.
- Most teens need about nine hours of sleep a night. Try to help your teen unplug and get to bed on time.
- Keep volume at a reasonable level when using earbuds or headphones. According to the CDC, more than 5 million kids age 6 to 19 have suffered permanent hearing loss due to excessive noise.
Be a safe sport:
More then 3.5 million kids under age 14 seek medical treatment for a sports-related injury each year, according to the National Center for Sports Safety. Follow these safety guidelines from Adena Sports Medicine:
- Always wear a helmet when riding a bike, skateboard, or scooter.
- Add wrist guards, kneepads, shin guards, and other protective gear when appropriate for your sport.
- Seek medical advice for sports injuries, particularly concussions.
Some teen health issues aren’t as visible as a sprained ankle or acne outbreak. Things such as depression, body image concerns, substance abuse, eating disorders, and self-injury may be harder for a parent to detect. The American Academy of Family Physicians offers resources to help parents understand and nurture teens’ emotional health.
Always talk to your pediatrician or family physician to learn more about screenings or get answer to questions you may have.
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