Infants born and diagnosed early with cystic fibrosis are now growing up, going through puberty, and eventually, most are becoming mature adults with families of their own. The teen years are a challenge both to the parents and the teens. Teens are beginning to assert their independence, trying to be grown up, and rebellion is a stage most teens will go through.
Teenagers feel awkward and uncertain and often lose confidence in their abilities and skills. They may feel frustrated at the drugs they need to take or the time spent having physiotherapy. They may want to pretend they are normal when they are out with their friends.
They may not eat healthy, take their digestive enzymes, and teenagers often start smoking at this age. Rebellion may be a perfectly normal part of going through puberty but teenagers with rebellious habits could lead to their death.
Start Early as Possible
Start when your children are small to help them understand their disease. Talk about it openly and encourage them to talk about it. Help them to be educated about cystic fibrosis. You can encourage them to be normal and still impress on them the urgency of keeping up with their treatments.
Teens are easily embarrassed but if they have a good self-esteem it will be easier for them to talk about their disease with their friends. If you find your teenager is not taking care of their health, have started smoking, or are not taking their medications get them in to their doctor or a good psychologist.
Support System Building
Teenagers can make it through this difficult time in their life. They need a good support system that should include parents, teachers, spiritual leaders, and a peer support group. If they are comfortable enough to talk about their disease and explain it to their circle of friends, they should be better about having treatments and taking medications.
You can help your teenager by offering healthy meals, being able to listen to them and understand their frustration and fear. They should be treated normally and a parent should not become overprotective.
Parents can be a tremendous help to their teen by allowing them the freedom to make decisions, fall down, get hurt, and learn from their mistakes. You should step in if they are neglecting their health and not taking their medications, as they should.
Encourage your teen to be frank with their friends. To other people it may seem strange to take a handful of pills before each meal or snack; for cystic fibrosis teens it is a necessity.
Complications for teens are nearly the same as for a younger child. The danger is they will take unnecessary chances and forget to take care of their health. Repeated infections that linger may cause serious damage to their lungs. There is a danger of a lung collapsing, coughing up blood, and even stroke or heart damage. Encourage your teen to take care of their health especially if they have the potential life-threatening disease called cystic fibrosis.