Adolescents and young adults often experience changes in their bodies and minds that can be a challenge to identify as normal or signals of an underlying medical condition. Being able to spot these early warning signs can help patients and their families to address their health concerns promptly and improve their quality of life. Here are some tips on what to watch for in young people and how to recognize any early signs of medical conditions.
1. Mood and behavior changes.
While mood swings and behavior changes are common in the adolescent years, sudden, intense, and unexpected shifts in these areas should not be ignored. If a young person is acting out of character, it could be a sign of a medical concern, such as depression, anxiety or a physical condition.
2. Physical symptoms.
Physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach cramps and fatigue can be easily overlooked in young adults. However, if they occur more frequently than normal or interfere with daily activities, it could be a sign of an underlying medical condition, such as migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, or autoimmune diseases.
3. Changes in eating habits.
Changes in a young adult’s eating habits may indicate the onset of an eating disorder which is a serious medical condition that requires prompt intervention. Warning signs can include a dramatic reduction in food intake, an obsession with counting calories, distorted body image, and obsessive exercise routines.
4. Sleep disturbances.
Due to late night studying, erratic schedules and sleeping difficulties, adolescent and young adults often report trouble sleeping. However, if this persists and starts affecting their everyday life, it could be a sign of a more serious problem, such as insomnia or sleep apnea.
5. Social withdrawal.
Adolescence is a time when young people are exploring relationships and defining their identities. However, if a young adult withdraws from previously enjoyed activities or isolates themselves from family and friends, it could indicate the onset of depression, anxiety, or other mental health concerns.
6. Substance abuse.
Substance abuse should not be taken lightly, and early intervention can be critical in preventing serious damage. Young people experimenting with drugs or consuming excessive amounts of alcohol can have long term health effects on their physical and mental health.
Recognizing the early warning signs of medical conditions in adolescents and young adults can be challenging, but it is essential for their health and well-being. Parents, teachers and medical professionals should be aware of these signs and work together to identify when a young person is experiencing difficulties. If you are concerned about a young person’s health, seek professional advice immediately.