Sunday, Sep 05, 2021 07:45 [IST]

Last Update: Sunday, Sep 05, 2021 02:13 [IST]

Teen health: A priority area that needs immediate attention

SAIKAT K BASU

Introduction
Teen agers are important constituent of both our families and society as the vibrant new representative of our next generation. Unfortunately, though in spite of being an important member of the society they have serious issues and conflicts that needs immediate care, attention and sympathetic treatment from us. But often these challenges and conflicts of teen lives are overlooked by parents, close family members, their peers and the society at large giving rise to serous complicated issues in the future. Hence, we need to explore, understand and empathize with teen issues around the globe. Teen age is the connecting link or the bridge between childhood and adulthood.
Teen issues at large
A teenager undergoes huge hormonal surge during this period of their lives and maturity of their primary and secondary sexual characters and organs. Hence this is indeed a period of crisis in their lives; and hence an opportunity to revisit the mind and body of an individual from an entirely new perspective. A list of serious teen issues collected from various research papers and reports around the globe are summarized below in simple terms:
1. Sexual insecurity and confusion
2. Unable to cope up with new changes due to development of secondary sexual organs and characters
3. Sudden change of emotions
4. Vulnerable to drug and alcohol abuse, provocation and fights
5. Faced with skin related issues such as acne, pimples, white heads, black heads, folliculitis
6. Poor self esteem and lack of self confidence, vulnerable to peer pressure
7. Negative thoughts, rebellious nature, suicidal tendencies
8. Overwhelming attraction towards opposite or same sex (depending upon sexual orientation of the individual)
9. Over attraction towards pornographic materials, maturation, sexual health and related staff
10. Often unreasonably aggressive or unexpectedly timid based on level of hormonal secretions
11. Unrealistic expectations
12. Emotionally overwhelmed and over sensitive
13. Unreasonable with weird demands and high level of irritability
14. Over spending on luxury items, alcohol, smoke, jewelry etc
15. Mixing with inappropriate groups or gangs
16. Getting into non-ethical emotional and sexual relationships
17. Vulnerable to sexual predators or paedophiles and sexually transmitted diseases
18. Vulnerable to teen pregnancy
19. Untimely delivery following pregnancy
20. Lack of balanced diet and exercise, lethargy and susceptible to various life style choice diseases and infections
Crisis and challenges
Based on the above observation of various teen age issues around the globe we can well assess that how delicate, sensitive and important teen age issues are. Thus it is very important that these issues are being dealt with empathy and sincerity to reach vulnerable individuals (both males and females) at this time of crisis in their life. One of the biggest concern being the fact that they are emotionally immature and often unrealistic, unpredictable and unimaginably sensitive. In a number of case studies, researchers have reported that the problem stems from the fact that a big section of teenagers are actually not aware of the changes that they are undergoing both internally and externally during this period. As a consequence they are highly confused, irritated and misguided; and hence are often known to go and traverse the wrong path in their lives.
Poor self-esteem is one of the critical issues the teenagers suffer during this period due to a number of factors such as high secretions of hormones,  maturity of primary sexual organs and rapid development secondary sexual characters. They are bothered by sudden weight gain or weight losses due to unhealthy and irregular life style, overwhelming break up of acne and pimples, change in pitch of voice in makes and menstruation in females etc making their life and survival quite challenging. A desire for perfect body shapes, meticulous hair styles and skin cares, vibrant use of strong make up kits, expensive clothing, luxury toilet items and jewelry are quite common. A number of teenagers suffer from poor health due to various gastrointestinal issues, repeated stomach infections causing ulcers and other diseases and infections due to lack of education, awareness and maturity. Poor self hygiene and irregular diet and unhealthy life style choices enhances critical health and mental issues in them quite regularly and need to be addressed properly.
Achieving dream body shape is challenging
We all appreciate slim body shape and aspire to have the same. But it is important to remember that this achievements needs sincerity, dedication strong motivation, will power and ability to stick to a well planed routine.  To achieve that one needs to cut down heavily on smoking and alcohol and switch to plant based low carbohydrate diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts  and proteins. Drinking water at regular intervals to keep the body hydrated and follow an exercise regime or brisk walking for at least 30 minutes everyday. Avoiding junk food, carbonated beverages and artificially sweetened juice are also necessary to avoid excess calories. Most importantly a healthy balanced life with rest and proper sleep; and the ability to fast adapt to changing circumstances while still maintaining the regime.
Another interesting thing to note is that we should not be making judgements on slim body shaped just by looking at the cover of the book. Looks can be highly deceptive. A slim body shake is not necessarily always an indicator of excellent health. Some individuals are slim due to their family medical history and genetics. Still others could rapidly loose weight due to drug abuses and other allied addictions. Others could be suffering from gastrointestinal issues, stomach infections, inflammatory bowel syndrome, diabetes, certain thyroid disease, anemia, bulimia and other medical conditions that make them thinner but sick at the same time. Hence, it is always better to proceed towards individual progress and never to compare with others while under going any weight loss program.
Consulting a certified dietician and a registered medical practitioner before getting involved in weight loss program to achieve the highly desired body type is very important. Each individual is unique and different; hence the needs of one individual differs from that of another. Weight loss is not at all an easy endeavour; and many just leave the program half way through due to frustration and related emotional challenges. However, the ability and determination of an individual to move through the process in spite of failures actually helps in building a desired body type.
How to cope with stomach ulcers?
Stomach ulcers are often quote common among teenagers. This is caused by several factors like high anxiety, stress or tension, bad ife style choices such as improper and irregular diet, regularly having empty stomach for long hours, and lack of proper exercise, sleep, rest/relaxation, disturbance in the ionic balance in blood and dehydration. Furthermore family history and genetics also play an important role in developing ulcers at an early stage of life. Nowadays, heavy dependence on alcohol, drugs and/or medications, acute acidity and flatulence, chronic constipation due to poor movement of bowl, critical irritating bowel syndrome, repeated diarrhoea, bulimia, stomach infections caused by the bacteria Heliobacter pylori, over use of steroids and/or antibiotics, sleeping pills, pain killers, poor self hygiene, acid flux in stomach, loss of stomach mucilage, etc are also responsible for developing ulcers in the stomach among teenagers.
Stomach ulcers must be dealt with careful medical attention. If it remains untreated for too long it results in severe pain and discomfort requiring surgical interventions. Good life style choices as discussed above needs to slowly integrate into daily life along with treatment under the supervision of an experienced general practitioner and/or gastroenterologist. In addition to medication prescribed by the physician; diet change is also very important. Oily, deep friend, hot, spicy or greasy food and all kinds of junk food, sugary juices and carbonated soft drinks and alcohol must be removed from the diet to avoid discomfort or sever pain in the stomach, quite common among teenagers around the planet. Surgery may be prescribed to fix the problem in highly critical cases.
How to take proper skin and hair care?  
Skin and hair care are a part of an individual’s personal hygiene management like dental care.  Just as we need to take care of our teeth, gums and tongue by cleaning them regularly; so is our skin and hair health care. It is important to shower regularly with a soft soap and good scrubber to remove dead cells and tissues from the body and to also clean up any bacteria or fungi getting deposited in the body. In some cases specialized medical soaps may be necessary. For highly sensitive skin it is better to use only a prescribed natural plant based moisturizer. Better to avoid strong make ups and application of strong chemicals in the skin. Using good quality shampoo (often medical shampoo) and conditioner should be used for washing and cleaning hairs. It is a good habit to slowly massage the shampoo on to the scalp and allow it to sit for 5 -10 minutes before washing of with a conditioner at least 2-3 times per week. These will help in avoiding the repeated breakouts of hair folliculitis. Good Homeopathic and Ayurvedic medication is also available for skin and health care for those interested in traditional holistic medical system. Some naturalistic treatments are also available, but will be better to look for the guidance of expert practitioners on how ti use them effectively. It will boost the prestige, courage and self esteem of many teenagers if they can overcome the challenges of acnes, pimples, dandruff and folliculitis. They will learn to look at themselves with a more positive attitude and will be highly encouraged to follow a healthy lifestyle for a better look, sound mind and a stronger body.
Conclusion
Teenage issues are important family and social issues that needs to be addressed with empathy, perseverance, sensitivity and immediate care and attention. Teenagers are mostly misunderstood by our society, family members and peers. These dynamics need to change from negative towards positive to help teenagers to gain confidence, build proper self-esteem, avoid distractive and unhealthy lifestyle choices and avoid drug and/or alcohol abuses. They are undergoing critical crisis at this stage of their lives abs need our sincere efforts to help them and groom them into responsible future citizens. Taking care of personal health and hygiene is absolutely important and is one of the factors that can significantly help teenagers to cross this bridge in their life from childhood into adulthood with confidence and self-respect.
(Email: saikat.basu@alumni.uleth.ca)

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi