Your Doctor

10 Tips For Helping your Teenage With Their Health

Being a teenager can be a stressful time whether it’s because your body is changing, you are in a permanent state of learning or because of all the pressures of modern life. Here are 10 of the best lifestyle tips you can give to your teenager.

1. Get enough sleep - Studies say that teens need at least eight and a half hours sleep every night. Sleep improves our memory, sharpens our attention span and helps us maintain a healthy weight. Those who suffer from sleep deprivation are more likely to develop unhealthy conditions like heart disease and high blood pressure in the long term. Avoiding gadgets an hour before bed and doing more relaxing activities such as reading or having a bath can make all the difference to your quality of sleep. 

2. Take care of your skin - Many teenagers are prone to acne. Washing your face daily can help, as does not touching your face with unclean hands and making sure to remove any make up before bed. Bear in mind soaps can dry the epithelial lining of the skin and cause the skin to produce more oils which can be lead to blocked pore and acne. Changing hormones can also influence this Seek advice from your GP if it doesn’t go away within a couple of months for a stronger prescription if the condition worsens. 

3. Sexual health is important - Teenage sexual health is a topic that is often taboo, but it shouldn’t be. One of the most common STDs is Chlamydia- this can cause painful urination, stomach cramps, irregular bleeding or painful sex for women. In men there are usually little or no symptoms (so it’s extra important to get checked if you may be at risk) but it can cause testicular pain. Other STDs such as gonorrhoea can cause more severe and abnormal symptoms like blood in urine or discharge, swelling or burning around the genitals. If you have any concerns regarding sexual health, then always get checked out by your GP.

4. Always start the day off with breakfast - Starting the day off with a nutritious and healthy breakfast will set you up for a full day by your boosting energy and can also improve our memory and decrease our stress levels. 

5. Avoid alcohol and drugs - Did you know alcohol is a depressant? Our brain is made up of lots of different chemicals, but alcohol can sometimes upset the balance of these and can trigger emotional and aggressive reactions. If you think you have a problem with alcohol or substance abuse, it’s important to immediately seek medical advice. 

6. Try not to stress yourself out - Not only does stress make us feel bad, but it also has a negative effect on our health and can lead to weight gain. Stress hormones mean that the body has to work faster to pump oxygen and blood, so you will experience reduced energy levels. Stress can weaken the immune system meaning we are more likely to develop a cold or flu like illness. If you’re feeling stressed, speak to somebody that you trust and make sure you don’t bottle up your feelings and worries. Talking to somebody is the first step to feeling better. 

7. Exercise - Getting regular exercise can reduces depression, give you energy by pumping oxygen more effectively around the heart and can help fight against diseases from diabetes to heart conditions and strokes.

8. Birth control - Many teens think that the pill or condoms are the only good methods of contraception, but there are many different options, such as the implant, the injection or the patch which you can talk through at a sexual health clinic, or with your GP. It is important to also use an external method of contraception such as a condom to prevent STDs. 

9. Testicular and breast examination - It’s incredibly important for both men and women to check themselves for any abnormal lumps or swelling. If any part of the breast is red or sore, or if one nipple has changed, seek medical advice. It does not necessarily mean there is anything seriously wrong, but it is always best to get checked out just in case. For a more in depth guide, read here.

Men should check their testicles to feel for any unusual lumps and bumps, hardness, increased size or any pain. See this article for self-examination advice. 

10. Period pains - Girls generally start their period between the ages of 8 and 15 years of age. Pain can be caused when the womb contracts to shed the womb lining. Regular periods should occur once a month, and the levels of discomfort differ in every woman. Regular painkillers like ibuprofen can help to reduce cramping pain, alongside home remedies like doing exercise and applying heat to the stomach. If you are concerned about not starting your period, or you experience an abnormal level of discomfort or irregular bleeding, always seek medical advice.