Stories about: teenagers

Sleep deprivation in teens: risky business?

Like toothpaste and orange juice, teenagers and 6 a.m. usually make for a bad morning combination. Between the threats of missed buses to the walking dead shuffle from the bedroom to the bathroom, mornings can seem like a nightmare for many households with teens. But with so many sleep-deprived teenagers staying awake until all hours of the night, this dreaded morning ritual comes as no surprise to most parents.

If your teenager is constantly staying up too late and is hard to mobilize in the morning, at least you’re not alone. A new study from the Centers for Disease Control indicates that two third of American teens aren’t getting enough sleep. This may not surprise many parents, but the study’s real take home message is that researchers are now linking sleep deprivation to something far more troubling than morning crankiness: Teens who get less than eight hours of sleep a night may be more likely to drink, use drugs, indulge in inappropriate sexual behavior, be depressed and lead an unhealthy, sedentary lifestyle.

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When care requires more than simple answers

When teenagers stonewall adults, there can be many issues leading to the behavior

By Sarah Teasdale, MD, EdM pediatric hospitalist at Children’s Hospital Boston

It was near midnight about a year ago when I noticed a gaunt young man in his early twenties walking toward me in the Emergency Department. It was a young man who, about a decade earlier, had threatened to kill me.

For nearly ten years prior to becoming a physician I was a high school teacher. That particular July, I was teaching English in summer school for students who had failed the class during the regular school year. It was a group of 15 surly teenagers ages 14 to 19, beaten down by a system in which they could not—or chose not—to succeed.

The young man—I’ll call him Andre—was my student that summer. He was a gangly, thin 15-year-old who often wore the same ill-fitting clothes day after day, rarely made eye contact and showed a level of fatigue in the early morning that was extreme, even for a teenager. Whenever I tried to talk to him, he would simply say he was “a’right.” He meant: Stop asking.

So I stopped asking. In doing so, I lost a chance to help him.

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Love can drive you nuts: Teens, dating and food allergies

Written by Joshua Feblowitz, a Thriving contributor who has lived with severe food allergies his whole life.

image: flikr/Amarand Agasi

As food-allergic children reach their teens, they face many new challenges in allergy management, including a first date and even a first kiss, both of which hold hidden dangers. For parents, these romantic milestones can be especially stressful because they happen outside of their watchful, protective view.

Unfortunately for food-allergic teens, dating frequently involves dining out and all the potential allergens that come with it. In addition, research and personal anecdote has shown that kissing can sometimes cause a cross-contact reaction. On top of these dangers, teens are generally known to take more risks when it comes to their allergies or feel self-conscious about them. As a result they may resist previously established rules around exposure, or be shy explaining their dietary needs, which can lead to trouble.

So, what’s a worried parent to do? The simple truth is, as teens start dating (and being more socially independent in general), they must also start learning how to manage food allergies on their own. Here are a few things you can do as a parent to help navigate this transition safely, smoothly and with minimal conflict:

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This week on Thrive: June 28- July 4

From offering advice to exhausted caregivers, to exploring whether or not early school times are endangering the physical well being of teenagers, it’s been a busy week here at Thrive. See what you may have missed and/or what others are saying about some of these issues.

Deciphering epilepsy: Epilepsy is a disease that remains stubbornly bewildering—to the nearly three million Americans who have it and the doctors who treat it. This week 60 Minutes aired a piece on the disease featuring research done by Children’s Frances Jensen, MD, recently named president of the American Epilepsy Society.

Caring for the Caregiver: Dixie Coskie is the mother of a child who lived through both a traumatic brain injury and cancer. In this blog post, Dixie writes about the stress that comes from being the primary caregiver of a sick child and the importance of taking care of yourself. The story really hit home with our readers. Check out some of the comments, and join the conversation.

“Thank you for sharing your story! As a caregiver for my son, I also did not care for my own health and suffered the consequences. I am now back in school to become a medical social worker to use our experiences to assist others with chronic medical conditions adapt to their new lives. Even though I had to learn along the way, I do not want others to have to learn the hard way!”

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