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Going back to school and back to the pediatrician

August 07, 2013

Since the start of school is right around the corner for families in central Florida, many of us will be taking our children to the pediatrician for an annual visit. Even if your child is completely healthy and hasn’t been sick in a very long time, it is still important to call and make that appointment with the pediatrician every year. I would recommend calling earlier in the summer to schedule an appointment with your pediatrician, since there are usually fewer sick children that come in over the summer, and more appointment times may be available. You will also avoid the big rush of patients trying to see the doctor for annual check-ups right before school starts in the fall.

Now, let’s look at some of the reasons why annual physicals and well visits are important for your kid’s health.

The importance of well visits for teen athletes

Teen athletes may participate in mass school physicals prior to starting sport practices, but it is also important for them to see their regular pediatrician for overall well adolescent care, too. Their regular pediatrician will be more familiar with their past medical history and illnesses, and will also have access to immunization records to ensure that your teen’s vaccines are up to date. The family pediatrician can also assist in the development of a nutrition or exercise program for your teen athlete that will be a safe and healthy one.

The importance of well visits for non-athletes

Even if your child or adolescent is not participating in a sport, it is still important to make that annual visit to the pediatrician. Your child’s height, weight, and blood pressure will be checked and monitored over time, during each annual visit, allowing your family pediatrician to identify any potential problems, such as the development of obesity, or high blood pressure. In addition to doing a head-to-toe exam and checking to make sure that your child is growing and developing well, your child’s pediatrician is able to address other important health topics, too. These topics may include: consuming a healthy diet, encouraging physical activity and exercise on a daily basis, and discussing safety measures, such as wearing a bicycle helmet and using seatbelts.

Getting beyond the physical

In addition to taking care of your child’s physical health, your pediatrician is also a great resource for your child’s emotional health and self-esteem, particularly during the years of puberty and adolescence. Your child’s pediatrician will be able to answer and address the changes that your child is going through, and help give them an idea of what is going to happen next with their bodies. Your pediatrician can also help with anticipatory guidance, and may want to discuss some difficult topics, such as alcohol use, tobacco, sexual activity, and depression.

A healthy childhood and adolescence is one that balances family life, school, sports, social activities, and extracurricular activities. No matter what a child or teenager is interested in, whether it be sports, arts, or music, your family physician can help in making sure that your child’s interest is a healthy one and is balanced in their life. Your family pediatrician can also help make an assessment about your child or teenager’s emotional health, especially if your child may be feeling too much peer pressure, or stress, about a certain sport or activity that could be unhealthy.

Making that annual trip to the pediatrician’s office is an important one, and shouldn’t be overlooked to help ensure that your child is healthy, both physically and emotionally.