The importance of a wellness checkup

Getting ready to start the school year is a great opportunity for your child’s annual physical.  It is necessary for preschool children because of immunization requirements, but it’s just as important for all ages through high school. Annual physicals should include everything from visits to the pediatrician, to the dentist, to eye exams to be sure they can read the chalkboard.

Basic routine physical exams are based on guidelines set by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Physicians will do a comprehensive check of your child’s body; recording height and weight, taking blood pressure and pulse reading, checking heart and lungs, abdomen, as well as skin, eyes, ears, nose, mouth, teeth and throat.

The doctor will also screen for reflexes, fine-motor and gross-motor development, scoliosis, hernia and overall level of physical maturity.

The doctor and patient along with parents will talk about current medical conditions such as allergies, including bee stings and food allergies and illnesses, such as asthma or diabetes.  Family medical history may be part of the discussion to give doctors the opportunity to check kids for illnesses and chronic diseases in early childhood when they may be easier to treat or even prevented.  Your doctor will be able to monitor your child’s overall wellness with routine examinations and tests, including blood test to screen for such problems as high cholesterol levels, diabetes and lead poisoning.

Depending on your child’s age, it is also a good time for you and your child to talk about safety with your doctor. They could mean everything from bicycle helmet safety to concerns about alcohol, drugs, cigarettes and sexual activity.

Other areas to keep in mind during the annual exam include behavioral and intellectual development, questions about self-esteem, grades and schoolwork and coping with anger and disappointment;  motor and language skills, depression, drug abuse and sexual activity with your teens.

Certain vaccinations are required by school’s before a child enrolls. While most vaccinations are given before your child turns two, they could expect a booster shot or two during their annual visit to the doctor.

Immunizations recommended by most doctors include: Hepatitis B vaccine (HBV), Hepatitis A (HAV), pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV),, DtaP (diphtheria, tetanus and petussis), Haemophilus influenza type b bacteria (Hib), inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV), MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), varicella (chickenpox), MCV4 (meningitis), rotavirus, human papillomavirus (HPV) and influenza.

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