Friday, May 22, 2009

Get a Handle on Your Health!

With the Pittsburgh weather changing (and changing again, and changing back, etc.) and the adrenaline rush of finals starting to subside, it's time to think about your health.

Whether you've been chronically ill all your life or are just starting to get that weird tingle in the back of your throat, there are reasons to make sure that you get the kind of health care you need. Unfortunately, there are some traps that can keep you from visiting a doctor:

  • No health care - According to the 2007 Census, 11% of all minors are without health coverage. While many teens might take for granted that they can cheaply see a doctor for a stomach ache, it's sadly not the case for everyone.

  • Busyness and presenteeism - Even if you have access to health care, you might feel like you don't have the time -- or inclination -- to use it. Your parents might be too busy to take you to the doctor for "little things," or your coach might tell you to "be a man" and fight through sickness.

A number of great online resources exist if you're looking for the kind of info that will get you through cold season, as well as any other health issues you might be battling. Of course, no online resource is a good substitute for a doctor, but it is a start.

The Pennsylvania CHIP Program - If you don't have health insurance, a recent government bill might make free or low-cost coverage available to you. Use this website to start your parents on the path toward applying to get you the care you need.

TeensHealth - TeensHealth is part of the award-winning KidsHealth Network, a project of the Nemours Center. The center was founded as a place where pediatricians and other medical experts develop health media free of "doctor speak," and is reviewed regularly for accuracy. It also has a Spanish-language componenent por la salud de los jovenes!

TeenHealthFX - TeenHealthFX is a nationally-renowned teen health site funded by Atlantic Health’s - Morristown Memorial Hospital and Overlook Hospital. The site has it's own Teen Advisory Board and aims to be a comprehensive place where general health info exists side-by-side with the "traditionally teen."

MedlinePlus - MedlinePlus is a service of the National Library of Medicine and has two teen-specific pages: Teen Health and Teens' Page are specific (though slightly redundant) pathfinders that lead teens to a number of specific health issues and various bits of research. It also scrapes articles from PubMed (a special, free database with medical articles) related to teen health.

Adolescent Health Transition Project - This important resource from Center on Human Development and Disability (CHDD) at the University of Washington gives teens with special health care needs due to chronic disease, disability, or developmental issues a resource to help you transition into independent young adulthood.

TeenGrowth - TeenGrowth is a simple, yet effective Q&A site from the Pediatric Health Alliance. It's easy to navigate and includes some sections that you might not usually find on teen health pages, like information on sports injuries and doctor visits.

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Main

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