Merck Manual

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Physical Problems in Adolescents


Sharon Levy

, MD, MPH, Harvard Medical School

Reviewed/Revised Jul 2022 | Modified Aug 2023

Although adolescents are susceptible to the same kinds of illnesses that affect younger children, generally, they are a healthy group. Adolescents should continue to receive vaccinations Childhood Vaccination Schedules Vaccination protects children against many infectious diseases. Vaccines contain either noninfectious components of bacteria or viruses or whole forms of these organisms that have been weakened... read more according to the recommended schedule.

Injuries are very common among adolescents, and sports-related and motor vehicle injuries are most frequent. Concussions Concussion A concussion is an alteration in mental function or level of awareness caused by a head injury. A concussion may involve a loss of consciousness, can occur without obvious damage to brain structures... read more , or brain injury resulting from head trauma, are common, particularly among athletes (see also Sports-Related Concussion Sports-Related Concussion A concussion is a temporary change in brain function after a head injury without any signs of brain damage on imaging tests, such as computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)... read more ). Adolescents who suffer a head injury should be evaluated by a professional who is experienced in the evaluation and treatment of this type of injury. After a concussion, adolescents should be given time to recuperate before returning to regular activities, including use of electronic devices, schoolwork, and sports. Re-entry into these activities should be supervised by a knowledgeable adult.

Disorders that are common among all adolescents include

Disorders that are common among adolescent girls include

About 1 in 4 adolescents lives with a chronic medical condition such as asthma Asthma in Children Asthma is a recurring inflammatory lung disorder in which certain stimuli (triggers) inflame the airways and cause them to temporarily narrow, resulting in difficulty breathing. Asthma triggers... read more Asthma in Children , diabetes Diabetes Mellitus (DM) in Children and Adolescents Diabetes mellitus is a disorder in which blood sugar (glucose) levels are abnormally high because the body does not produce enough insulin or fails to respond normally to the insulin produced... read more Diabetes Mellitus (DM) in Children and Adolescents , or inflammatory bowel disease Overview of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) In inflammatory bowel diseases, the intestine (bowel) becomes inflamed, often causing recurring abdominal pain and diarrhea. The 2 primary types of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are Crohn... read more . Although not common, cancers such as leukemia Overview of Leukemia Leukemias are cancers of white blood cells or of cells that develop into white blood cells. White blood cells develop from stem cells in the bone marrow. Sometimes the development goes awry... read more , lymphoma Overview of Lymphoma Lymphomas are cancers of lymphocytes, which reside in the lymphatic system and in blood-forming organs. Lymphomas are cancers of a specific type of white blood cells known as lymphocytes. These... read more Overview of Lymphoma , bone cancers Overview of Bone Tumors Bone tumors are growths of abnormal cells in bones. Bone tumors may be cancerous (malignant) or noncancerous (benign). Cancerous tumors may start in the bone (primary cancer) or start in other... read more , and brain tumors Overview of Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors in Children The central nervous system is made up of the brain and spinal cord. Central nervous system tumors are the second most common cancer in children under 15 years of age (after leukemia) and the... read more also occur.

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