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Amber J. Tresca

Blog Carnival: Chronic Illness in Children and Teens

By October 14, 2013

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Welcome to the About.com Health Channel blog carnival! The topic for this month is: How does chronic illness affect children and teens differently than it does adults?

How Illnesses Affect Children

There are many chronic illnesses that affect children, and children with chronic disease are not a small group. In fact, the incidence of certain illnesses in children is rising. Children with chronic illnesses are often underserved by a health care system that doesn't know what to do with them. Medications are not always tested on children, often because of ethical concerns, but that leaves parents and children in a void of information when it comes to choosing the right drugs.

Illnesses may affect children differently than they do adults, but this is not always taken into account. Kids are still growing, which means that illnesses can affect their brains, bones, and even their final height as adults.

Children have challenges when it comes to discussing or even being aware of their symptoms, or of how medications affect them. Even older kids and teens may not always have the vocabulary to express the finer nuances of how they feel. Parents may be able translate to a certain extent, but young children may not be able to express how they feel, and older children and teens may not divulge important information for more complicated reasons.

Blog Carnival Posts About Chronic Illness In Kids

The About.com Health Guides have contributed their knowledge and expertise to the topic of chronic illness in children. Here are their entries:

Helping Your Kid Who Has A Chronic Illness

As a parent, how can you help your child deal with their chronic illness? Children need special handling, and as a parent, you're going to be responsible for monitoring their healthcare just as you monitor your own -- maybe even more than you monitor your own. Picking your pediatrician is very important, and you shouldn't apologize for wanting to interview pediatricians, or for changing pediatricians if you feel it's necessary.

Your teenager will have different needs than a younger child or a baby. Younger children will need you to do everything for them, but older kids and teens can start to take some responsibility for their own healthcare. Teens may want to be responsible for taking their medication, for example. One day your child will need to care for their illness on their own, so it's important to start fostering independence early, and giving age-appropriate responsibilities when it comes to health care.

The emotional side of a chronic illness is often ignored, and it really is one of the most important parts to be addressed. Children sometimes seem to take everything in stride, when they could be feeling a significant amount of anxiety and sadness surrounding their diagnosis. In some cases, children with chronic illness are at risk of depression.

Even with the advances that have been made, children with chronic illness often face an uphill battle. Parents, caregivers, and those who love children who are dealing with chronic illness can often make a positive difference in children's lives.

March 10, 2012 at 2:00 pm
(1) Sher says:

As a person who has dealt with chronic illness from an early age, I have had to deal with so many who didn’t understand. Many teachers think that children are ‘wanting attention, or trying to get out of class’ when they are dealing with pain or some other health symptom that affects their schooling or participation in sports, gym classes. There is also the problem of fitting in with your peer group when you are different from them. Everyone knows the problems in social groups when friends cast you off because you can’t always join them in activities. This is even more traumatic for a pre teen or teenager who is trying to find their own group of friends, and ends up being dumped because of their illness.
I have no problem with all of the organizations that minister to children with serious illnesses, but it would be nice to see some support for kids who know they will have to live with a debilitating illness all of their lives. It’s a very big burden for a child to deal with.

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