Here’s a question for you-when should a young person start on birth control, before or after they first have sex? So, this isn’t really a hard question, but it’s amazing how often I have to discuss this with young people. We talk about how it’s okay to begin contraception even if they are only sort of thinking about having sex. It’s better to be safe, then pregnant and sorry.
There has been a lot written about Ebola, but just in case here is an article about it, http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/10/03/ebola-ask-well-spread-public-transit/?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=b-lede-package-region®ion=top-news&WT.nav=top-news. It’s a deadly infection that has killed many people in several African countries, but for most of the rest of the world the risk of getting Ebola is low. If you haven’t travelled to Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea recently, you are luckily at low risk.
Ebola really is an ugly virus.
It takes only 5 steps to reach and maintain a healthy weight. Curious? Find out more at http://teenshealth.org/teen/food_fitness/dieting/weight_tips.html.
There was a great article in the New York Times recently about the importance of sleep for teens. Did you know that 2 out of 3 teens are sleep deprived? I’ve written previously about the effect of sleep deprivation on IQ and grades, but if you don’t get enough sleep you are at higher risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and obesity. It is also linked to depression, suicidal ideation, and car accidents. Small changes can help with this. For example, starting school a half-hour later allowed a group of students in Minnesota to get more sleep, better grades and better standardized test scores. I may irritate young people when I stress the importance of sleep, but getting enough sleep is so important to success and health.
“All the secrets of the world are contained in books. Read at your own risk.”
The other day someone told that Planned Parenthood of Minnesota and Washington state has an app that is like a “nurse in your purse”. With this app and $45 you can have a video visit with a Planned Parenthood provider and then get the birth control pill, patch, or ring in the mail. This is amazingly simple and convenient. Now that you have a “nurse in your purse” there is no reason that young women in Minnesota and Washington state who could get pregnant but wouldn’t want to, should get pregnant.
I was reading a newspaper article and saw a picture of something wearing a Girls Inc. t-shirt. Here’s a video about this wonderful organization.
The Ebola epidemic in Africa is concerning, as are the isolated other cases around the world. Wow, the amount of media coverage of the two Ebola cases in the US is amazing. I know we will be able to contain this Ebola problem because we are going to do what is needed to keep people safe and limit the spread of Ebola. But, I wonder why we can’t do something to address a more serious problem-the gun violence problem in the US? Did you know that everyday 32 people are murdered with guns and 51 people kill themselves with guns? If you’re worried about Ebola, you should be absolutely terrified of gun violence.
I literally saw someone drive up onto the curb and almost hit a pole today while going 40 mph because they were doing something with their phone while they were driving. The person with me said that it was a good thing that no one was in the bike lane because the texting driver would have plowed into them. I wonder what was so important on the phone?
I meet young people with asthma who have trouble with their breathing because someone smokes around them or because they themselves smoke. It can be hard to stop smoking, but help is out there. Smokefree TXT is a mobile text messaging program that sends you tips all day along with advice and encouragement. I don’t smoke, so I can’t tell you whether Smokefree TXT works, but I know it can’t hurt. Plus, since it can be hard to quit smoking-it makes sense to get all the help you can.
“. . . gentleness is stronger than severity, water is stronger than rock, love is stronger than force.”
Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha
A couple of days ago I wrote that I got my flu vaccine, but I didn’t write about the experience. It was a pretty easy experience. I’m lucky because I was able to go down to a clinic where I work for the vaccine. After I signed in, the nurse took me back pretty quickly and I as I rolled up my sleeve the nurse told me to relax and not tense my arm. That’s when I realized my arm was tense and as I relaxed I tried to remember whether the flu shot hurts. For various reasons I can’t get the flu mist which is the nasal form of the flu vaccine, so I have to get a shot. Just as I was thinking about my previous experience with the flu shot, the nurse gave me the shot and guess what? I barely felt it! My arm was a little sore the next day, but that’s about all. The smallest amount of pain for a huge gain-I’m ready for flu season.
It is so sad to hear of young people injured or killed by gun violence. There is so much we need to do to fix this problem, but one thing that would help would be for parents to make sure that their child has no access to guns. I know that parents can’t watch young people every moment, but parents do need to know who their child’s friends are, who the parents are, and whether these are people who are good influences or are they ones who will lead a young person into trouble-maybe death.
See how much more processing (the red, yellow, green colors) your brain is able to do if you have regular exercise. Studies are showing that young people who exercise do better academically than those who don’t exercise. Exercising students have better math test scores, reading test scores, and they can more easily sit in class without getting distracted. Exercise has also been shown to make it easier for someone with ADHD to do well in school. So, this is your brain on exercise-ready to do really well in school.
I saw someone today that I hadn’t seen for a couple of years. She looked completely different-better. I asked her if she had lost weight and she told me she had; she has lost 60! pounds. She said that she lost weight by primarily cutting out sugary drinks. What she did proves that it is possible to lose a lot of weight. It also shows how bad sugary drinks are. I suppose if you are really thirsty and there is nothing else to drink, than drinking a sugary drink makes sense. But how often does something like that happen?
It really is true-if you push yourself to exercise even when you’re tired you do feel better, energized. In my experience, I often don’t want to exercise after a busy day, but when I do exercise I feel good and proud of myself. It helps to have an exercise partner because it’s hard to say that you won’t exercise when you’ve arranged to do it in advance with someone. You should try it yourself. Arrange a schedule of exercising with someone and see if this helps you exercise more often and if you feel better.
I don’t want to keep talking over and over again about the effects of drugs of abuse, like marijuana, on the brain-but it’s a concern. As I wrote about yesterday, the brain keeps developing until someone is in their late 20s. This means that the brain can be more easily affected than it would be when it is older. The brain changes from being like plastic to being fixed like stone as it ages. So, you don’t want to do anything that could harm your developing brain-and really, you don’t want to harm it at any time in your life. Protect your developing brain by staying away from drugs.
Our brains develop until our mid to late 20’s. This means that young people should engage in new experiences, experiment but remember to not take too many risks. For example, see the world, meet new people, and try new things-but don’t do things like experimenting with drugs. I guess what I’m trying to say is that when you’re young you should be daring, but not reckless.
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is that someone with asthma not be exposed to tobacco smoke of any kind. This means that they shouldn’t smoke, shouldn’t be around someone who is smoking, or even be around someone who has been smoking. People sometimes think that if someone smokes in another room or outside than their asthma won’t be affected. The truth is that smoke stays on clothes. So, what’s the solution if someone with asthma lives with someone who smokes? The best solution is for the smoker to get help to quit. It’s the healthiest way for everyone involved.
I just read about California’s “yes means yes” bill. It calls for shared responsibility so that sexual consent isn’t implied if someone is quiet or doesn’t say “no”. Consent means that someone has to say “yes”. By the way, this goes for both males and females because rape can happen to anyone. So, unless there is an active “yes”, it is “no” to sex.
I hope all of you student athletes who have begun your sports are finding success. I am always impressed with how you balance school work and your sport. It can be hard though, so please get the help you need. For example, successful student athletes I know work with their teachers to manage the work. I don’t mean they don’t have to do the same classwork as other students, they just work with their teachers and coaches to make all of their responsibilities fit. Also, most student athletes have to limit some or a lot of their social activities. This is a good definition of the phrase “short-term pain, long-term gain” when it comes to high school and college sports.
Go Ask Alice has a great quiz about sleep. I found that I took it and learned more about sleep and some sleep disorders. You should give it a try.
Apparently most freshman college students do not gain more weight than the same age young people who are not in college. So, it’s a myth that college students will gain 15 extra pounds their first year. Despite this, it is important that they eat healthy and make exercise a regular part of their lives. Students should eat 3 meals a day, limit unhealthy snacks and exercise several times a week. Many college students drink a lot of beer which is many empty calories which can cause them to gain weight. I’m encouraged that college freshman aren’t at greater risk than other young people for gaining weight.
I was advising a young person about her birth control options recently. Of course we visited www.Bedsider.org to look at what methods could work for her. It was helpful to show her pictures of the different types and she seemed to appreciate that not every method works for everyone and she had to figure out what was best for her. In the end she decided that she would restart birth control because she knew that she was going to have sex and knew that she didn’t want to be pregnant. If only everyone was as thoughtful as she is!
This is a funny video for parents. What “instructional video” do you want to make for your children?
Someone asked me today about the stress some children and young people experience with the start of school. Starting a new school year is a huge transition and those of any age can feel stress even with positive transitions. When a young person is stressed they may feel physically sick, they may get irritable, and they may have trouble sleeping. Parents can figure out what is going on by doing what parents do best-providing love and attention. If the problem is stress, parents can help their child by spending time with them and listening to what they say. It also helps to make sure that the child or young person is eating a healthy diet, has downtime to read for fun or play outside, and is getting enough sleep. Remember, children 5-12 years old need at least 10 hours of sleep, while those over 12 years old need 8.5-9.5 hours of sleep each night.
Some schools have started already and already I’ve heard young people complaining about the school food. I don’t know what they are complaining about-the food served in many of the schools I’m familiar with is healthy and delicious. Don’t believe me? Check out the Minneapolis Public Schools menus found here: http://nutritionservices.mpls.k12.mn.us/uploads/aug_sep2014_sm_hs.pdf.
I wonder when all schools are going to change the start of school until 8:30 or later. This week the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended this because natural sleep cycles change when someone becomes a teen so that adolescents need to go to bed later and get up later. This is because their sleep cycles can shift up to 2 hours later from childhood to adolescence. Increasingly, it is clear that it is unhealthy for teens to start school at 7:30 or earlier.
I don’t know what to say to young people who have asthma and allergies, but don’t do what they need to do to control their illnesses. For example, I know many young people who will continue to expose themselves to cats and dogs, even though this causes their asthma and allergies to act up. It so curious how they jeopardize their health and their life. I explain why they need to stay away from animals, but often this doesn’t make them change their behavior. If they can’t breathe, they can’t survive-but even hearing this isn’t enough. I’m puzzled.
School is starting for many young people tomorrow and I have advice for them, actually this advice would work for everyone. My advice is to be comfortable admitting when you don’t know something. But, don’t stop there-if you don’t know something, make sure you find the answer. There is one thing I say almost every day, and it goes like this, “I don’t know, I need to look it up.”
I’ve noticed that so many young people don’t get enough sleep. Many young people prioritize almost every other aspect of their life-school, work, friends, everything-over sleep. Why not give make time for sleep? You know how important sleep is for doing well in school, work, with friends, everything. Do what you need to do to get enough sleep-maybe you need to put sleep on your calendar.
I once heard a successful businessman tell the story of how, as a teen, he got really angry about how he was treated. He was so angry that he grabbed the only weapon he could find, a sharp screwdriver, and went after the person who treated him badly. Luckily, he didn’t find the guy. It was also lucky that the businessman did not have a gun-he could have killed someone before he had a chance to think about the consequences. So, build a lucky life for yourself by not reacting in anger, and by putting yourself as far away from a gun as possible.
I speak to young people and their families about many vaccines, but the vaccine parents have the most questions about is the HPV one. Below is a graphic that shows why this vaccine is so important, it shows that the HPV vaccine can prevent genital warts and many types of cancers. The answer is right here.
It’ll be football season soon. I found this video of Richard Sherman of the champion Seattle Seahawks cooking a healthful lunch. Enjoy.
A recent Columbia University study found that more teens admitted to drug treatment programs were addicted to marijuana more than any other drug. The researchers also say that teens who start smoking marijuana are at particular risk of getting addicted. Also, smoking marijuana as a young person can lower IQ and cause learning, memory, attention and concentration problems. So, I ask you, why risk addiction and your IQ by smoking marijuana? It’s not worth it.
I know that I have to organize the posts on this blog a little better because, if I did, different topics would be easier to find. Oh well, one day. But, for now I keep writing-I’m not going to stop just because all of my work isn’t perfect. It should be the same for many things, don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. Do what you need to do, get things done-they may be good, maybe very good, but not perfect and that’s probably okay.
It’s like a jungle out there. The roads are dangerous because so many people are distracted by their phones. This morning, again, someone almost hit me as they veered into my lane. When I drove past the car I saw that the guy was looking at his phone. It’s a jungle out there and I’m the innocent prey about to be killed by a predator who keeps looking at his phone as he drives by me!
Today James Brady died. He was President Reagan’s press secretary in 1981 when he was shot in the head. After he recovered, he and his wife, Sarah, founded the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. This organization has truly led to “Millions marching to end gun violence.” Lend your voice of support today.