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Teenagers attending Rheumatology

General health

Your teenage years are an exciting time when you go through many changes. These can include the way your body looks, what is happening at school and in your social life.

Arthritis can affect many of these changes and these changes can affect your arthritis. Your Rheumatology Team will be interested in any concerns or worries you may have in these areas.

The way the Rheumatology Team remembers to ask about these things is to use the term ‘HEADS’ as a simple checklist (Home, Education, Activities, Drugs, Sex), as described below.


As you grow up the relationship with your family changes. Sometimes this happens without any problems but sometimes there may be tensions and disagreements. Some people call this the ‘the storm and stress’ of teenage years. Your family can be valuable allies and it is important to keep taking to them, even if you don’t agree all time!

Most young people will want to leave home and set up their own home. In order to do this, it is important for you to learn how to become independent and develop the confidence to look after yourself.


‘What do you want to do when you grow up-and how are you going to make it happen?’

This is a very important question and a good education is a very important part of the answer. Teachers, careers counsellors, occupational therapists or Disability Employment Advisers are key people for advice. However, education is not the only factor to be considered, but it is an important aspect to prepare yourself for the world of work.

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A happy social life is important for your self-esteem and well-being.

Keeping as physically fit as possible is also important. Doing some form of exercise, ideally every day, is important for all young people whether they have arthritis or not.


You teenage years are a time when many people first come across alcohol, cigarettes and illegal drugs. You may feel tempted or pressured to try them out. It is important for you to understand the risks of these and the side effects on your health if you do decide to try them.

Illegal drugs and alcohol can interfere with the medicines used for arthritis.

Alcohol makes your liver more sensitive to the effect of methotrexate and there is a danger of damaging your liver if you drink too much alcohol. You should not drink more than 5 units of alcohol per week when you are on methotrexate, sulfasalazine or any other anti-rheumatic drug.

If you have any questions or concerns there are people who will listen in confidence, including your Rheumatology Team — so please ask!


If you have sex you must use reliable contraception if you are on methotrexate or many other anti-rheumatic drugs, whether you are male or female. This is because methotrexate and other anti-rheumatic drugs can cause damage to an unborn baby.

It is also important if you are having sex to protect yourself against sexually transmitted infections – condoms are an effective way doing this.


The Rheumatology Team will be willing to listen to any concerns you have. Please don’t be afraid to ask.

Is something missing from this resource that you think should be included? Please let us know

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

Resource number: RHM18

Resource Type: Article

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Rheumatology Team
0114 271778


Western Bank
S10 2TH

United Kingdom

Switchboard: 0114 271 7000

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