Why Does My Teen Have Trouble Sleeping?

Research shows that teens need at least 8.5 hours of sleep a night, which most teens do not reach nightly. During adolescence, the body’s circadian rhythm (like an internal biological clock) is reset, telling teenagers to fall asleep later at night and wake up later in the morning. This change in the circadian rhythm happens because a teen’s brain makes the hormone melatonin later at night than the brains of kids and adults do. However, your teen may also be suffering from insomnia, which is most commonly caused by stress. While everyone has trouble falling asleep from time to time, if your teen regularly cannot fall asleep and stay asleep, they may have chronic insomnia.

Common causes of chronic insomnia could be other medical conditions, mental-health problems, side effects of medicines, or even substance abuse. If you think your teen may be suffering from chronic insomnia, you can get help from a doctor, counselor, or therapist. However, before seeking professional help, you could attempt reducing the stress your teen feels and make sure they have a comfortable sleeping environment, as these are the usual causes of insomnia.

Why Does My Teen Get Acne?

Acne is a problem that many Americans face, approximately 17 million people in the U.S. have acne, so your teen is not the only one. So, why do all these people have acne and where does it come from? Contrary to popular belief, acne is not caused by having dirty skin. Acne is caused by an inflammation of pores due to overactive oil glands and a build-up of oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria. People between the ages of 12 and 24 are more likely to get acne because oil glands become stimulated when hormones become active during puberty. However, having acne can also be genetic, so if people in your family have acne, your teen may be more prone to having acne too.

Even though it is hard to fight genetics, there are ways to help reduce the amount of acne your teen may get!

•Make sure your teen washes their face. Washing your face is extremely important because it helps remove excess oils and dead skin that can clog pores and cause pimples. But be careful, washing the face too much can be harmful by overdrying and irritating existing acne.
•If your teen works out or tends to get pretty sweaty, have them wash their face as soon after sweating as possible, because sweat can clog pores and make acne a lot worse.
•Speaking of clogging pores, it is important to use lotions and makeup that are noncomedogenic or nonacnegenic, which means that the product won’t clog your pores.

Controlling Media Violence Exposures

As parents, we must take action in reducing our children’s exposure to media violence. Not only is this a children’s health issue but, unfortunately, also a public health issue. After a school shooting, politicians will examine gun control, mental health support, and media violence among other areas.  Extensive research has shown that media violence can contribute to aggression and real life violence.

 

What are some steps we can take as parents?

 

1.  Remove televisions, Internet, and video games from bedrooms and move them to common areas.

2.  Preview or coview media of concern with our children. Discuss what is inappropriate, why it is inappropriate, and what an alternative would be to the action if there are any exposures.

3.  Review music lyrics prior to purchase for both sexual and violent content.

4.  Limit screen time to no more than 1-2 hours day.

5.  Don’t allow video games with human targets or games in which points are awarded for killing. Kids will understand if you explain to them why these games don’t need to be purchased or played.

6.  Remember that we, as parents, are role models for our children of appropriate media and music use. 

7.  Avoid media in children less than 2 years old- not for violence but to prevent possible language delay.

 

It is time to take control of our children’s exposure to media violence. Speak up to our politicians. Tell the entertainment industry. There needs to be a more responsible way to portray violence and a simplified rating system to guide parents. We want to prevent any further gun tragedies against children in the future.

 

 

Elizabeth Chea MD

Antibiotics – Are They Necessary?

Help, my kid’s nose is running and it’s green like a Martian!

It’s that time of year again, the time of year when the leaves begin to turn, there is coolness in the air in the mornings, homework begins to pile up and the noses start to produce amazing amounts of mucus!! Fall, back to school, ragweed season, cold and flu season-they all mean the same thing: your child is likely going to be coming home with a stuffy, runny nose.  With all of these things going on, you may feel like you are constantly running to the doctor’s office, and you may become frustrated when you hear, “It’s a virus!”  Antibiotics have become increasingly overused over the past several years. And with this overuse comes increased bacterial resistance. This means that when bacteria do infect, it is more difficult to clear the infection. Therefore, judicious use of antibiotics is necessary! I hope to dispel some myths, to help you to know when you need to make an appointment for your child, and to help you know when you need to let it run its course.
 

Myth 1: If it is green, it needs antibiotics.

Truth-Mucus produced by the cells lining the respiratory tract can be any color at all, ranging from clear to green, and may mean nothing more than the body is fighting off an infection. As our immune system gets the message that an “enemy” has invaded, white blood cells are recruited to the sight of the infection. Their job is to kill viruses or bacteria that are foreign to our body. When that happens, mucus becomes thicker and will often turn yellow or green, especially as it sits around in the nose overnight. THIS DOES NOT MEAN IT IS TIME FOR AN ANTIBIOTIC!!
 

MYTH 2: If there is a fever, an antibiotic is necessary.

TRUTH: Most viruses cause at least a low grade fever during the first several days of the illness. Even colds in babies are often associated with fevers of 101-102 degrees. Many viruses are known to cause fever in the 104-105 range-with no associated bacterial infection. While we would certainly want you to call our office if your baby under 3 months has any fever or if your baby or child has a fever of 104-105, usually these are indicative of a healthy immune system doing its job to fight infection. Whenever a fever lasts more than 5 days or if your child has cold symptoms that seem to be getting better then a fever recurs, we need to see her in the office. Just having a fever at the beginning of an illness, however, does not mean an automatic need for antibiotics.
 

Myth 3: If the cough sounds “wet”, an antibiotic is necessary.

Truth: Most viruses produce wet sounding coughs. As the virus invades the respiratory tract, the normal lining cells are sloughed off. The normal function of these cells, the respiratory cilia, is to clear mucus and debris from our respiratory tract and thereby prevent these from entering the lungs. When these cells are infected with a virus, they do not work properly and therefore, mucus builds up. Our body’s next defense for clearing this mucus is to cough.
 
There are many reasons you may want to bring your child in to be seen for a cold. These may include, among others, ear pain, fever, or perceived shortness of breath. Please know that we are always happy to see your child and would want to anytime you are concerned. We will assess his symptoms and decide whether an antibiotic is necessary. Sometimes knowing that nothing more than your love and care is needed is worth your time to come in! After all, chicken soup is still the best treatment for a cold!
 
Michelle Lynch, MD

 

What to do About Sleep Problems

Sleep is important for both children and parents. With inadequate sleep, children can be moody, fatigued, have inattention, poor school performance, increased daytime sleepiness, or even depression.

In current society, our kids have high homework loads, extensive after school activities and parents with increased work demands. These demands are causing our kids to get to bed later and are adversely affecting our kids. In addition, when our kids get to bed later, so do we.

Sleep requirements vary for different kids but typical requirements are:

  • 11-13 hours a day for toddlers
  • 10-11 hours a night for school age children
  • 9-9.5 hours a night for teenagers

There are ways we can help to facilitate a good night’s sleep. It is important to establish a relaxing bedtime routine and a regular bedtime. Children should sleep in a cool, dark, quiet room. The room should have no distractions or activities. That means no TV, computer, video games, or cell phone. Children should have regular afternoon physical activity but not right before bed. They should have no caffeine after lunch. They should also turn off all video stimulation at 7 o’clock to allow their brain to rest before bed. Teenagers should not have cell phones in their room so they cannot be woken by texts or calls.

If your child takes more than 30 minutes to fall asleep or has trouble staying asleep talk to your child’s pediatrician. Also, if you have noticed loud snoring or trouble breathing at night, they could have a medical problem affecting their sleep so call our office so we can evaluate the sleep problem further.

Elizabeth Chea, MD