We usually associate diseases with aging. As such, we assume that our bodies are strong and healthy as long as we are young. We feed it with unhealthy food and engage in unsafe practices because our bodies can handle them. Some of us even reason out that we’ll all die anyway, so what’s the use of being healthy?
In reality, it’s not just senior adults who suffer health issues. Children and young adults can be as vulnerable. In fact, certain diseases target their age group more than seniors. Worse, some juvenile diseases have no cure.
Increasing awareness about such diseases will help educate more young people about their well-being. We’re still battling the pandemic, so it’s the perfect time to talk about risk factors for different diseases. That said, here are the illnesses that can target children and young adults:
1. Autoimmune Diseases
The causes of autoimmune diseases are unclear, but the risks factors are known. According to the Global Autoimmune Institute, there are seven risk factors, such as:
- Sex. Females are more likely to develop an autoimmune disease than males. As for the specific diagnosis, 95% of those with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and Sjogren’s syndrome are female. Arthritis and multiple sclerosis are 60% more likely to occur in females than males.
- Genetics. Multiple sclerosis and lupus tend to be hereditary. But if you have a family history of any autoimmune disorder, you are likely to develop it too.
- An existing autoimmune disorder. If you already have one, you can contract another. Getting three or more autoimmune diseases is called Multiple Autoimmune Syndrome (MAS). Roughly 25% of autoimmune patients develop it.
- Obesity. Excess weight is associated with more than ten autoimmune diseases. Obese individuals are found to be most at risk for rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis.
- Smoking and exposure to toxic agents. Smoking is linked to rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and other autoimmune disorders. Exposure to toxic agents like crystalline silica, UV radiation, and other air pollutants is associated with autoimmune diseases, especially multiple sclerosis.
- Certain medications. Some prescription drugs can affect the immune system function, potentially triggering an autoimmune reaction. These are found in particular blood pressure medications, antibiotics, and statins.
- Infections. Contracting certain viruses, like the Epstein Barr Virus (EBV), can increase your risk for lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and Sjogren’s Syndrome. Group A Streptococcus, another infectious microorganism, can lead to autoimmune diseases in the heart, joints, and brain. Even COVID-19 may have links with autoimmune diseases, but more research is needed.
Treatment for autoimmune diseases is effective and easily accessible. Don’t neglect your symptoms or self-treat them. A medical professional will help you recover faster and prevent aggravated symptoms.
2. Sexually transmitted Infections (STIs)
Teens are vulnerable to sexually transmitted infections (STIs) because many of them lack education about sexual health. But adults are also at high risk, especially if they had been with multiple partners without using protection.
STIs are transmitted through skin-to-skin contact. Hence, protected intercourse is crucial. Contracting an STI can lead to a full-blown sexually-transmitted disease (STD), like chlamydia, gonorrhea, or HIV.
The odds of contracting an STI depend on several factors. Having unprotected intercourse increases those odds the most. Cases of STIs are on the rise, so don’t add the numbers. Practice safe intercourse and demand honesty from your partners. Before getting intimate with someone, you should know if they’ve been tested or diagnosed. If your partner isn’t aware that they might have an infection, use protection or abstain.
3. Mental Health Illnesses
Mental health illnesses don’t choose an age, but young people are particularly vulnerable. Children and young adults are frequently exposed to toxic environments, like homes with abusive parents or schools plagued with bullies.
But biophysical factors also increase their risks for mental health illnesses. A family history of depression, for example, can make you more susceptible to the same condition. Traumatic brain injury can also heighten your risks. Using alcohol and drugs also affects your brain, which can lead to a mental health illness.
Keep your mental health in good condition by knowing your triggers and avoiding them. Surround yourself with positive forces, like friends and family who genuinely care for your well-being. Leave toxic situations or places with the help of those people. And most importantly, seek counseling, even if you haven’t hit rock bottom yet. Treating the symptoms of poor mental health is easier than curing them.
These diseases can affect a child’s or young adult’s entire life. So don’t take your youthful and healthy body for granted. Live a healthy lifestyle now, and you can enjoy adulthood and your golden years without hefty medical bills to pay.