Adolescents are young people, spanning the ages of 10 to 24 years. This is an age where dynamic body changes take place, with the transition from childhood to adulthood.
Adolescence is thought to be a period of good health, but this age group faces unique health challenges.
Many serious diseases in adulthood have their roots in adolescence, and may often be preventable if the right choices are made from the outset.
As adolescents go through physical, intellectual and social-emotional changes, they must also make appropriate choices that impact on their health. They face all sorts of pressures, emanating from their peers and guardians alike. Left to their own devices, they are more likely to be wayward.
Most health risks faced by adolescents are related to behavior. They are highly predisposed to sexually transmitted diseases (including HIV), teenage pregnancy and unsafe abortions. Bring in the mix of alcohol, cigarette smoking, and drugs, and you have a recipe for disaster. Added onto this is poor nutrition and sedentary lifestyles, putting them at risk of obesity and consequent cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. Risk-taking behavior like driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs puts them at great risks of fatal accidents and premature deaths.
We can take several initiatives to uphold adolescent health or choose not to bother and keep mourning about the decay of our youth. Parental upbringing comes top on the list. Parents must do their best to guide their children along the right paths to a healthy lifestyle.This means guiding by example, no use dissuading your teenagers to keep off alcohol while you live in a perpetual state of inebriation yourself. The broader society must embrace healthy behavior if this is to translate to our youth. We must promote healthy habits through our schools and colleges, the media and public health initiatives.
Adolescents can do a lot themselves to maintain good health. They must be willing to uphold healthy habits. Succumbing to peer pressure and getting into drink and drugs may appear trendy, but will only beget poor health. Practice safe sex, by using condoms every time to guard against sexual infections and HIV. You are legally eligible to use suitable contraceptives, without necessarily getting consent from your parents. Better that than an unwanted pregnancy leading to unsafe abortions. Get all the recommended preventive vaccines, and this is applicable to both sexes. If needing confidential help, there are plenty of places to go to. Being constantly aware of your health will likely lead you to the right path.
Being an adolescent is enviable in many ways. What with all the vibrancy of youth, and a future full of unlimited possibilities. But all this can quickly dissipate into thin air if you don’t watch your health. Drift with the current, and you end up leaving us prematurely. Make the right choices, and propel yourself to health and prosperity.