Being a teenager is difficult. There are plenty of difficulties and awkward things that teens deal with every day. For those who have a rheumatic disease, their lives can be a little bit harder. It can also be difficult for doctors to treat teenagers with these conditions due to some of their behaviors. There are strategies that healthcare professionals can utilize to better treat teenagers with rheumatic diseases.
About Rheumatic Diseases
Rheumatic diseases are a group of conditions that are characterized by inflammation in the connective and supportive structures of the body. They most commonly affect the joints, but they have the potential to inflame the tendons, ligaments, bones, muscles, and even organs. More than 100 rheumatic diseases exist.
More than 46 million Americans have a rheumatic disease, which includes 294,000 children. Some of these are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and gout. Another form of this disease is juvenile idiopathic arthritis, which is the most common in children.
It is believed that a combination of environmental and genetic factors cause rheumatic diseases. Certain genetic components can heighten the risk of these conditions, and environmental triggers can cause the onset of the disease.
Common symptoms of rheumatic diseases are pain, stiffness, swelling, warmth, redness, tenderness, difficulty with using joints, fatigue, eye infections and inflammation, rashes, sores, pain in the neck, back, and spine, muscle pain, and trouble with taking deep breaths.
Tips for Treating Teens with Rheumatic Diseases
Certain factors of having an illness can take a toll on teens’ mental health and self image. They have to try to explain symptoms to people who may not be understanding, receive treatment that could make them gain weight or have other adverse effects, and have many appointments to attend. Doctors who understand the struggles of teens, especially when it comes to their mental health, have a better chance of connecting with them. This connection can make them more open to receiving treatment and improves their overall experience.
Teens are also likely to lie about some of the things that they do. They may lie about drugs, alcohol, and taking medication. Wording questions carefully so that they do not feel attacked may help with this problem. It is also important to re-educate patients about diseases as they grow up.
Alcohol use is something else that can affect teens’ treatment. They may want to experience drinking, even if they are on medication. They may also resist treatment if it means that they cannot drink while on it. It is important that doctors explain the risks of drinking while on medication, or how alcohol can affect rheumatic diseases themselves. If teenagers better understand the risks, they are less likely to take them.
Like alcohol, vaping is another problem within teens. Doctors need to educate their patients about the risks of vaping. It can affect brain development, and make it so that decision making skills are worsened.
Sex is something else that can be stressful for teens, so doctors should keep that in mind. They should also educate their patients about contraceptives and STD prevention to minimize risks. LGBT teens also go through bullying and stress; doctors should be aware of this and offer support by respecting them and their identities. Make sure they feel comfortable.
Treating teens with rheumatic diseases can be difficult. Making sure that teens feel comfortable and are educated is very important.
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