ADOLESCENT HEALTH PROBLEM

Adolescent is the transitional period of physical and psychosocial development from a relatively dependent childhood to a relatively independent adulthood. The time onset and duration varies from person to person. The WHO defines adolescent in terms of arbitrary age range 10-19 years and refers to the 10-24 years age grouping as young people. Issues of concern to the parents are abnormalities puberty and perceived behavioral problem in their adolescent child.

Its be recognized three phases of adolescent development i.e. : Early adolescent (10-14 years), Mid adolescent (14-17 years), and Late adolescent (17-20 years). Progression through each of these developmental tasks is necessary if the adolescent establish a sense of identity and become a healthy adult.

Predominant issues in early adolescent are the new bodily sensations of puberty  and a preoccupation with normality, the same sex peer group becomes all important and the desire for independence begins. In their effort to develop a separate identity from their parents, they are often viewed as rebellious and difficult. The role of the primary care physician is recognizing these changes and to reassure the parents that it is normal separation behavior.

The major conflicts in middle adolescent phase relate to independence, the peer group sets behavior standards as parents begin to exert less authority, there is enjoyment of new intellectual powers and  a rich fantasy life. Adolescents at this phase  are concerned with their physical appearance  and believe that other s are also concerned. Middle adolescents experience  sexual drives and aggression and must learn to control and comfortable  with their sexuality. During this phase peer groups expand to include friends of the opposite sex. Taking risks and experimenting with sex, drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes is common.

Whereas during late adolescent phase the emphasis is on functional role definition in terms of work, lifestyle and relatiomship plans; a degree of freedom, realistic body image and a comfortable gender role should have been established; relationships now tend to involve mutual caring and responsibility.

The health problem of adolescent can be summarized as below :

  • Acute health problems which are not different from other age groups.
  • Chronic illness and disability including disability in survivors of inherited disorders.
  • Psychosocial problems that may be brought to the attention of the physician by parents, teachers other  cares of the adolescent himself or herself.
  • Injuries including sporting injure, motor vehicle accidents and interpersonal violence.
  • Consequences of risk taking behaviors including drug abuse.
  • Sexual matters including unsafe sexual practices and teen age pregnancy.
  • Eating disorders including obesity, bulimia nervous and anorexia nervous.

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