This School Year, Get a Gold Star for Good Health!
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If you have a teenager in the home, you know daily life can get, shall we say, interesting. Between physical changes, growing pains and generation gap issues, both you and your teen can sometimes reach your wits’ ends. Did you know your teen’s pediatrician could be a source of help?
Pediatricians go through years of training to understand all the changes your teen experiences so they can make sure your teen is physically and emotionally healthy. That’s why it’s important to make sure your teen has a well-child check each year, and right now, before school starts, is the best time to schedule one.
Cover All the Bases
“This is more than just checking eyes, ears, nose and getting immunizations and the doctor signing off,” explained Dr. Nilam Khurana, board certified pediatrician and cofounder of Healing Hearts Pediatrics. “This visit is tailored to your child specifically — who your child is and what your child needs. This includes whatever concerns you and your child may have.”
Your teen’s pediatrician will determine the screens your child needs. These can include risk factors in their current or past environment that would set them up for problems with mental health and also may include dyslexia screening, which is new. In Arizona, one in five people have dyslexia (a reading-related disability). It’s the most common cause of reading, writing and spelling difficulties.
Nutrition will also play a part in your teen’s well-child visit. Khurana uses myplate.gov to illustrate what makes a healthy diet: one-fourth veggies, one-fourth fruit, one-fourth proteins and one-forth whole grains and two to three servings of dairy each day.
“Everything is changing because of hormones right?” Khurana said. “Now your body is not only growing, it’s changing drastically. So you need to have the right balance.We’ve known forever what we need. It’s pretty straight forward: That stuff is bad for you, this is the stuff that’s going to help you grow properly, have energy, be able to learn, be your best and just enjoy life. Ideally, if kids have a healthy, balanced lifestyle, then they’re good where they’re at.”
Oh, Those Hormones
When it comes to hormones, teens develop differently. Girls, Khurana said, develop earlier, are more independent and know what they’re getting into.
“A lot of times,” Khurana said, “if you really talk to them and really help them understand their body, they can learn to do well and prepare themselves. ‘This is my time now when I’m going to get my menstruations. I may be a pain in the tush, and I need to know that’s my hormones taking over my body and I can control how I react to it and I can control how I react to my environment around me.’
“Boys,” Khurana continued, “when they going through their teens and try to figure things out, you don’t know what you’re going to get. So you have to be prepared for them to help them understand all the changes in their body, all the things going on. All the development and emotional changes.”
Along with hormones, other things may start to come into play. Teens may become self-conscious and eat out of stress. Some don’t eat out of a need to look perfect.
“All of that is linked to mental health,” Khurana said, “and it’s so important that they have a stable mental and physical health. It’s going to give them more energy, the ability to function better, learn better in school and deal with all the hormonal changes.”
“The whole pandemic has created more emotional issues,” Khurana added. “Sadly, there’s been a lot of kids — really good kids that I take care of regularly — who have become depressed, anxious, doing drugs, trying to end their lives.”
Khurana shared how she was able to help one of her patients that suddenly experienced difficulty.
“Good kid,” Khurana described the situation, “Hispanic family, very well supported. They worked on healthy eating, healthy lifestyle, being involved in sports, and then COVID happened. I didn’t see him for a little over a year. It turned out he got involved in doing drugs, he stopped sports in school, he was anxious and depressed. At first they didn’t want to talk about it, but they brought him in, we worked on it and now he’s doing so much better.”
Have You Finished Your Homework?
Have you scheduled your teen’s well-child visit yet? Call your teen’s pediatrician or your health plan to schedule an appointment today. Need a doctor? Go to www.equalityhealth.com/members to find on near you.
Learn more inspiring tips from Dr. Nilam Khurana in her lively discussion with Equality Health’s Maria Rebozo-LaPine on Cafecito Time con Equality Health.