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Part 4: Keeping Your Child Healthy  >  The A-Z of Childhood Illnesses  >  Addictions

ADDICTIONS

In India, just like around the world, addiction to alcohol, tobacco chewing, smoking and hard drugs is taking its toll on young people.

Peer pressure and high parental expectations add to the pressure. Not fully realising that alcohol is also a drug, a teenager may use it to relax or escape from stress. With time, the abuse of alcohol can give rise to a feeling of inadequacy, lowered self-esteem, estranged relationships, impaired reasoning and judgement, dependence and gradual personality deterioration. Even beer, which is often thought to be safe to drink, can impair rational thinking and lead to irrational behaviour. It can also be responsible for delayed reaction time, which may increase the risk of automobile accidents. And then, there is always a possibility of graduating from beer to harder stuff.

And while puffing a cigarette may seem less hazardous and life threatening in youth, a single cigarette is said to reduce the lifespan by 5 minutes. Even if we close our eyes to the long-term dangers like cancer and heart disease, what about simple effects like bad breath and staining of teeth? These do not help in becoming popular with friends! Smoking also has an immediate effect on our lungs, resulting in frequent attacks of cough, possible wheezing, poor stamina, and an adverse effect on performance in competitive sports.

The list of risks that result from exposure to smoking (active or passive) includes asthma, middle ear infection, chronic lung disease, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), hearing defects, lower intelligence quotients, increased risk of inflammable bowel disease (with bleeding per rectum), hypertension and bacterial meningitis. Permanent genetic changes that increase the risk of lung cancer occur in teenagers who smoke, even if they quit later in life. Among young smokers, cigarette smoke also contributes to the formation of low-density lipoproteins (LDL) — the so-called ‘bad cholesterol’ — and this to heart disease. Smoking is also linked to low sperm count in males and a 64% increase in miscarriage risk when parents smoke.

Experts from the British National Dental Health Foundation reveal that children as young as 12 years old have been diagnosed with pre-cancerous lesions in the mouth due to the use of gutkha. They warn that if its sale is not restricted, it could lead to a rapid spread of mouth cancer having a high mortality rate.


DIAGNOSIS: Early diagnosis of addiction to drugs is important. It may save the child as well as prevent the breakdown of the family. Counselling by parents or experts can help get rid of the habit if detected early enough. 

Do consider the possibility of addiction if you find that your son (or daughter) gets tired easily, has started keeping odd sleeping hours and has a poor appetite, does not care about his/her appearance, gets easily annoyed or depressed, shuns company and keeps getting congestion or redness of the eyes. You may also start getting complaints from his/her school or college. In certain cases, the addiction may even lead to depression and attempted suicide.

But before you start spying on your teenager, keep in mind that most of the above symptoms can also be found in growing children who either have no major problem or have some physical or behavioural problem unrelated to the agents under discussion. Confirmation of addiction should be left to the doctor.

As the addiction grows, withdrawal symptoms can be detected when the addict wakes up. He/she appears restless, his/her eyes and nose water, he/she complains of abdominal cramps and develops diarrhoea, vomiting and mental confusion.

PREVENTION: As parents, you can play an important role in curbing such dangerous trends by helping your children develop self-esteem and character from an early age. Encourage them to communicate freely with you on any subject. Provide them the help to realise their inner potential. Encourage them to take part in extra-curricular activities and sports. Teach them the value of health and the need to preserve it to live life fully.




7 March, 2016

 
Part 4
The A-Z of Childhood Illnesses

Abdominal Pain
Abrasions or Scratches
Acute Glomerulonephritis
Acute Nephritis
Acute Watery Diarrhoea
Addictions
Adenoids
AIDS
Allergies
Anaemia
Anorexia (Poor Appetite)
Asthma
ADHD
Autism
Backache
Bed-Wetting (Enuresis)
Birth Deformities
Bites and Stings
Bleeding
Bone, Joint and Muscle Injuries
Bowlegs and Knock-Knees
Breathlessness
Bronchiolitis
Burns
Calcium Deficiency
Cancer
Cardiac Pulmonary Resuscitation
Cerebral Palsy (CP)
Chickenpox
Choking
Circumcision
Cleft Lip and Palate
Common Cold
Congenital Heart Disease
Constipation
Convulsions or Fits or Seizures
Cough
Croup
Crying
Cuts
Dengue Fever
Diabetes Mellitus
Diarrhoea, Dysentery ...
Diphtheria
Down's Syndrome
Earache, Ear Infections ...
Electric Shock
Encephalitis
Eye Problems
Fears
Foot Problems
German Measles (Rubella)
Glands in the Neck ...
Headache
Head Injury
Hepatitis
Hydrocephalus
Hypertension
Hypospadias
Influenza (Flu)
Jaundice
Joint Disorders
Kala-Azar
Leptospirosis
Limp and Pain in the Legs
Malaria
Malnutrition (Undernutrition)
Measles
Meningitis
Meningomyelocele
Menstrual Problems
Mental Retardation (MR)
Mouth To Mouth Breathing
Mumps
Nephrotic Syndrome
Nose-Related Problems
Obesity
Pneumonia
Poisoning
Poliomyelitis
Premature Baby
Prolapse of the Rectum
Rabies
Rheumatic Fever
Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rickets
Short Child
Skin Conditions
Sleep and Sleep Problems
Sore Throat (Pharyngitis)
Splinters
Stammering
Stridor (Noisy Breathing)
Teething and Care of Teeth
Tetanus (Lock Jaw)
Thrush
Thumb-Sucking
Tics
Torticollis
Tracheoesophageal Fistula
Tropical Eosinophilia
Tuberculosis (TB)
Typhoid
Umbilical Problems
Undescended Testis
Urinary Infection
Vaginal Discharge
Vomiting
Wheezing
Whooping Cough (Pertusis)



Part 4
Keeping Your Child Healthy
Choosing A Paediatrician
Proper Use of Medicines
Home Remedies
A First Aid Kit
The A-Z of Childhood Illnesses
Psychological Concerns
Managing A Hospital Stay
Emergencies
Prayer And Your Child's Health
The Role of Nature Cure
Homoeopathy
Ayurveda and Child Care
Congenital Heart Disease FAQ
 
Guide to Child Care
Home
Introduction
1 Pregnancy, Childbirth ...
2 The Growing Years
3 Feeding Infants, ...
4 Keeping Your Child Healthy
5 Keeping Your Child Happy
About Dr. R. K. Anand
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