Posts Tagged ‘health’

9

Jan

Get ready! It’s Pennsylvania Teen Health Week!

 

Help us celebrate!Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Laura Offutt, MD, whose digital health resource, Real Talk with Dr. Offutt, developed Teen Health Week in collaboration with the College of Physicians of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Department of Health with support from the Pennsylvania Medical Society. Laura is a volunteer internal medicine physician, youth mentor and advocate who uses social media and her blog-based website to engage adolescents with teen-friendly, accurate health information.

Get ready! This week is Pennsylvania Teen Health Week! As proclaimed by Governor Tom Wolf, Pennsylvania Teen Health Week to focuses on the overall health of teenagers from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh and everywhere in between. Pennsylvania is the first and only state to have such a statewide proclamation and observance – but soon Teen Health Week will be a national celebration!

It’s easy to be a part of this special week.  Involvement can be as simple as hanging a flyer announcing the week in your school, church or community center, or wearing lime green, the official color of Teen Health Week.  We even have a toolkit which is full of easy ideas for activities, sample social media posts, and a variety of resources which are organized around the broad themes covered in the week.

Each day has a specific broad health focus:

Monday: Healthy Diet and Exercise

Tuesday: Violence Prevention

WednesdayMental Health

Thursday: Sexual Development and Health

Friday: Substance Use and Abuse

Why is Teen Health Week important? Well, did you know that in Pennsylvania more than a third of our young feel depressed or sad most days?  Or that many teens think that driving after smoking marijuana is safer than after drinking? Or that 1 in 3 high school students have been in an abusive relationship? Or that fewer than one-tenth of our teens broke a sweat for one short hour in the past week?  And that fifteen- to nineteen-year-olds account for nearly half of the cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea in Pennsylvania?

As you can see, there are plenty of good reasons to have a week focused on teen health here in Pennsylvania!

Don’t worry – it’s not too late to take part in this fun and special week!  Here are a few ideas of how you can be a part of it:

Wear lime green. It’s the official Teen Health Week color.

Get artsy. Use post-it notes and set up a New Year’s Resolution wall that week – where teens can put anonymous health resolutions for 2017! You know, like “eat a fruit every day.”  Or, “make sure to get enough sleep.”

Hashtag for health. Share or post educational announcements or social media posts focused on each day’s health theme with friends or students. (Find these in the toolkit, or on SafeTeens’ social media channels.)

Help us celebrate! Attend the kick-off at the State Capitol Building in Harrisburg on January 9th, or the Friday the 13th celebration at the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia.

Plus, there are a lot more easy and fun ideas already created for you in our toolkit!

23

Sep

Prepare for Freshman Year…With a GYN exam (It’s not that bad!)

 

AR-140729874Editor’s note: This article originally appeared at Geisinger.org. Geisinger is one of the nation’s largest rural health services organizations, serving more than 2.6 million residents throughout 44 counties in central and northeast Pennsylvania. Whether you have insurance or not, you can make an appointment for a free or low cost GYN exam at health centers across Pennsylvania.

 

Timing is everything

Most colleges and universities require their incoming students to have a routine physical completed before reporting to their first class. This ensures that students are healthy and up-to-date on immunizations before coming into a close-living and learning situation.

The same can be said about women having a routine gynecological exam before they begin their freshman year.

“It’s recommend that women have their first gynecological exam between the ages of 15 and 18,” said Brian Murray, M.D., a gynecologist at Geisinger Mt. Pleasant, Scranton. “All women should have had a gynecological exam by the time they’re ready to begin college at age 18. However, if a woman becomes sexually active prior to their 18th birthday, GYN exams should begin sooner.”

If a young woman hasn’t had a GYN exam before, having one prior to leaving for school will ensure they are healthy and informed about how to protect their health.

 

The exam explained

Before any part of the actual exam begins, your doctor will likely take some time to talk to you and get to know you a little better. This is meant not only to put you at ease and calm your nerves, but also to get a picture of your overall health and any risk factors you may have for health conditions.

“The first part of a routine GYN exam involves your doctor performing a breast exam — this allows your doctor to look for or identify any unusual lumps or changes in the tissue and skin,” Dr. Murray said. During this part of the exam, your doctor will also show you how to perform a self-breast exam so you can check for any lumps or changes in between visits.

Next, the doctor may perform a pelvic exam, which not all patients require. During a pelvic exam, your doctor examine the external genital area as well as the cervix, vaginal walls, uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries.

“During the pelvic exam, your doctor may perform a Pap smear,” Dr. Murray said. “This test consists of taking cells from the cervix to detect the presence of pre-cancerous or cancerous cells.”

 

Teens-Doctor-Visits

 

Let’s talk about…sex

Based on the earlier discussion of your health and history, your doctor may recommend testing for sexually transmitted diseases. While the conversation about your sexual health may be uncomfortable, it’s important to be honest in order for your doctor to accurately assess any risks to your health.

One part of the discussion may be about human papillomavirus (HPV).

“In general, we recommend you receive the HPV vaccine starting as early as 9 – 11 years. But, if you haven’t yet received the vaccine, your doctor may recommend you receive it now if you are still under the age of 26. The vaccine is designed to protect against HPV infection and the health problems the HPV infection can cause,” Dr. Murray said.

Your routine GYN appointment is also an ideal time to bring up any questions you may have about birth control options.

“Anything you discuss with your gynecologist about birth control, sex, STDs, pregnancy or anything else is private and confidential. Ask any questions you may have about your reproductive health to learn what you can do to protect your health as you embark into a new phase of your life,” Dr. Murray advised.

Editor’s note: You can make an appointment for a free or low cost GYN exam at health centers across Pennsylvania.

15

May

Do You Know What Your Risk Is? Need-to-Know Statistics About STDs

 

Summer is just around the corner, and many teens are looking forward to relaxing, hanging out with friends, and maybe even spending some time alone with that special someone. Before you get too cozy, you should learn a little bit more about STDs and how to protect yourself. Spring is a perfect time to educate yourself about your risks, raise awareness about the importance of getting tested and go get yourself tested for any possible STDs you may have.

One of the most important parts of STD prevention is education. Many organizations, such as MTV’s Get Yourself Tested have started campaigns to raise awareness about STD risks. The more aware you are of your risks, the less likely you will be to develop a disease. How much do you know about your chances of getting an STD? Here are some statistics to keep in mind when choosing to keep yourself safe:

-Each year, there is an estimated 19 million cases of STDs in the U.S. Nearly half of those cases are sexually active people between the ages of 15 and 24.

-1 in 2 sexually active people will get an STD by the age of 25.

-STDs are not only passed through intercourse. Some may spread through oral sex as well. It’s important to be aware of your partner’s history, keeping yourself safe during any sexual contact.

-STDs such as Chlamydia, which is the most common STD in the U.S. with over 3 million people infected each year, have little to no symptoms. This makes it easy for someone to carry a disease and not even know it, evidently passing it on to their partner.

-Research has found that it is necessary for teens to be checked for HIV. 1 in 2 infected teens aren’t aware that they have the disease.

-Although there isn’t a cure for all, there is a treatment for 100% of STDs. The earlier you detect an infection, the easier it will be to treat. All STDs can be controlled and most can be cured through the use of different medicines. Four STDs that are currently incurable are Hepatitis B, Genital Herpes, Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).

STD awareness is an important part of your sexual health. There are several locations where you could receive confidential, free or low cost STD tests.  Find a center in your area and take control over your sexual health by getting you and your partner tested.

8

May

Shining the Light on Safe Sun Myths

 

May is melanoma and skin cancer prevention month and with summer right around the corner, it’s important to know your risks when exposing yourself to the sun. One of the most important parts to staying safe is staying educated about the benefits of safe sun. Do you know the truth about your exposure? Here are a few answers to some safe sun myths you may have.

Myth # 1: MELANOMA AND SKIN CANCER ONLY HAPPENS TO OLDER PEOPLE.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the US, with over 3.5 million people diagnosed annually; Melanoma is the second most common form of cancer for young people ages 15-29. Dermatologists are finding more and more cases of melanoma and skin cancer in patients who are in their late teens, showing that the disease is becoming prominent in younger generations.

Myth #2: I WON’T GET MY DAILY DOSE OF VITAMIN D IF I WEAR SUNSCREEN.

UVB rays can still get through sunscreen, providing you with more than enough recommended Vitamin D. If you are still skeptical, try getting your Vitamin D from nutritious foods as well such as fish or eggs.

Myth #3: TANNING WILL MAKE MY SKIN LOOK HEALTHIER AND MORE FIRM.

Although it may be nice to have that summer glow for a while, continuous exposure in the sun could seriously damage the appearance of your skin in the long run. Some side effects of heavy exposure are wrinkles, blotchy or leathery looking skin and age spots. Still want that summer glow without the harmful effects? Try a sunless tanner, bronzer or a spray tan which is offered through many salons.

Myth #4: IF IT IS CLOUDY OUT, I DON’T NEED ANY SUNSCREEN.

To keep your skin safe, it is recommended that you wear a sunscreen with a UPF of at least 15 every day. As much as 80% of sun exposure is incidental, which means it occurs during times that you aren’t tanning, such as going for a walk.

Myth #5: I ONLY NEED TO APPLY SUNSCREEN ONCE A DAY TO KEEP MYSELF SAFE:

While outdoors, it is recommended to reapply sunscreen every two hours. Although waterproof sunscreen is protected from sweat and water, it is necessary to keep applying that as well.

Knowing the truth about safe sun can help you enjoy those sunny outdoor days in a safe and healthy way. Remember these facts and share them with friends to get a healthy glow the right way this year.

26

Jan

STDs: What You Need To Know To Stay Safe

 

Several things are sure to run through your mind when making the decision to have sex. But which ones are the most important? What do you absolutely need to do before you do anything? It is important to pay close attention to one of the biggest factors: keeping yourself safe by avoiding potential risks for a sexually transmitted disease (STD).

STDs, sometimes referred to as STIs, affect more than 12 million Americans each year. STDs can be transmitted through any type of sexual contact and it is important to understand your risks to keep yourself safe from infection. Here are some useful tips to keep in mind when choosing to be sexually active:

-Communicate: It is important to be able to openly discuss potential sexual health risks with your partner. Having an open line of communication builds trust and allows you to learn about your partner’s sexual past, addressing anything that may be an issue when becoming sexually active.

-Get Tested: Several STDs have no noticeable symptoms, so it is easy to assume you are STD-free when you aren’t. The only sure way to find out is to get tested. If you or your partner feel uncomfortable getting tested, go together. This ensures that you are both safe and may give each other some comfort in knowing that you are not alone.

-Practice Safe Sex: Not only is it important to use a condom every time you are sexually active, it is also important to make sure it is used correctly. When used incorrectly, a condom can put you at risk for STDs, so make sure you or your partner are aware of its correct use.

-Avoid Being Sexually Active when Drugs/Alcohol are a Factor: When at a party, you’re bound to have a lot of influence around you. It is hard, if not impossible, to make smart decisions when choosing to be sexually active under the influence. Avoid potential risks to your sexual health by making these decisions with a clear head rather than in the moment.

-Always be Prepared: When heading out, it is always important to prepare yourself for potential sexual activity. Although a female may expect a male to worry about the protection, it’s important for both genders to take caution. Being prepared for any possible situation will help you keep the status of your sexual health in your own hands.

The decision to have sex is an important one, but even more important is the decision to stay safe. Keep these tips in mind to ensure you stay in good sexual health when being sexually active.