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Teens Need Wellness Visits, Too
August 8, 2017
Back to school is a great time to bring your teen back to the doctor.
Nothing screams “back to school” like taking your teen to an annual physical or wellness visit. And while it may not be the brightest part of summer, Providence Health says it’s essential.
“At Providence, we are always looking for ways to make our communities healthier, and we know that one way we can improve the overall health and well-being of those we serve is by encouraging regular well-checks,” said Stephanie Simmonds, Chief Nursing Officer. “They are essential to good health.”
Well-checks are not just for young children and older adults
While many kids may be required to get an annual physical for athletic programs or extracurricular activities, this is a habit parents should help form for every teen. Yearly check-ups are essential for identifying potential health problems before they start or become severe. They also allow parents the opportunity to ask questions or raise any concerns with a medical expert, and they serve as a great way to stay up-to-date on essential vaccinations (more on those in a minute).
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that once children hit the age of three, they should visit their doctor every year until the age of 21.
For children who participate in athletics, the AAP encourages Pre-participation Physical Exams (PPE), also commonly referred to as a sports physical. According to Simmonds, this is something every child who plans to play a sport should do.
“The reason for this is really pretty simple – we want to keep our children safe and healthy,” said Simmonds. “Just like a well-check allows us to catch health conditions early, a pre-sports physical allows us to make sure there aren’t any underlying medical conditions that could be dangerous or physically limiting for the child, like asthma, heart murmurs or bone and joint problems.”
Annual vaccinations protect teens
Another key reason for annual well-checks is to stay current on vaccinations. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), vaccination is one of the best ways parents can protect their children through the teenage years. The reason is simple: diseases like diphtheria, polio and tetanus – things that claimed many a victim back in the days of the Oregon Trail – can cause hospitalization or even death. But thanks to modern medicine, these potentially deadly diseases are preventable.
The CDC recommends that pre-teens and teens through age 18 should receive a yearly flu vaccination, as well as vaccination for human papillomavirus (HPV), meningococcal disease and Tdap (tetanus-diphtheria-acelluar pertussis).
While the CDC encourages all children get vaccinated for these dangerous diseases, individual states may have different requirements for attendance in public schools. To see what South Carolina requires at each age, visit http://www.scdhec.gov/Health/Vaccinations/TeenandPreteenVaccines/.
If you have questions about your teen’s health or are in search of a primary care physician, call Providence Health at 800-424-DOCS and get connected with the right physician for your family.