10 symptoms no teen should ignore

When you're fourteen or fifteen, health matters are not always at the top of your list of priorities. But if you have any of the following symptoms, get your parents to take you to a doctor.

Point is, if you ignore these, things could get a lot worse. So, it's best to do something about them right at the beginning.

Lumps. No teen goes through adolescence without getting a couple of pretty impressive bumps. Truth is, they're mostly acne or boils, but if the lump is still there after a few days and it shows no sign of infection, get to a doctor. Whether it is a swollen gland or a lump under the skin – get it checked out. It may be nothing, but then again it may not be.

Absence of periods. These could signify many things, and not just possible pregnancy. Most teens initially have irregular periods, but they tend to settle into a regular pattern after a year or two. You could also miss a period because of stress, or because of several other medical conditions. Have it checked out.

Bad acne. There's no reason why you should suffer through this. Few people get through their teens without a few pimples (always before a big date, of course), but if you have the type of acne that makes you want to hide in a cellar somewhere, get some help. There's medication available that can help you.

Blinding headaches. Everyone gets headaches every now and then, but if you start getting them every couple of days, and find that you're missing school and living on painkillers, you need to get to a doctor. It may be that you have eye problems, or that you may be allergic to something. Or any one of a thousand different things. There's no need to suffer unnecessarily.

Constant coughing. If you have recently had the flu, don't be surprised if you have a cough that lingers for a few days. But if it's a few weeks down the line and you're still coughing, your body might be trying to tell you something. You may have pneumonia or tuberculosis. Or you may just be run down (or you should stop smoking!). Have it checked out.

Breathing difficulties. If you're suddenly out of breath and breathing becomes difficult, you may have asthma, or you may be having an allergic reaction – to name just two causes of breathings difficulties. Don't play around with this. Young and otherwise healthy people can die from something like asthma.

Genital infections. These could be a symptom of a sexually transmitted disease – something you should definitely not ignore. Go to a clinic if you don't want to involve your parents, but whatever you do, don't pass it onto others. And next time, use condoms. Even if you haven't been sexually active, you could have a thrush infection. Get it sorted.

Constant urination. Most people urinate a couple of times a day, but when you find you're running every 30 minutes, or having to get up in the night several times, you could merely have a bladder infection. But it could also be a symptom of the onset of type 2 diabetes, the incidence of which is increasing in leaps and bounds worldwide, especially in westernised urban populations.

Loss of interest in life. If you feel as if nothing interests you anymore, you feel exhausted and as if everything is just too much to handle, you may be suffering from depression. These feelings are normal during your teenage years, but if they last for more than two weeks, it may be an idea to see the school counsellor, or speak to a doctor. There's medication available – after all, we no longer live in the fourteenth century.

Skin infections. If you've been burnt or you've injured your skin in some way, don't just ignore the wound. If it hasn't formed a scab within a few hours, or if it starts oozing, it definitely needs medical attention. Do something about it.

(Susan Erasmus, Health24)
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