Make the most of your child’s annual checkup

Between winter colds and springtime sprains, you may feel as if you qualify for frequent-flier status at your child’s pediatrician’s office. But while your child may have had ample face time with the doctor this year, don’t forget to schedule an annual physical exam.
   Dubbed “well-child” visits, these physicals are about more than weight checks or getting the OK to play soccer. The doctor can assess your child’s development, nutrition and fitness; screen for illnesses or conditions; and counsel on emotional problems, learning difficulties and puberty.

Bring a list of questions or concerns and encourage your child, if old enough, to do the same. During an annual checkup, the doctor:

  • Conducts a thorough physical exam. In addition to measuring your child’s height, weight and head circumference, the doctor will examine his or her skin, eyes, ears, heart, lungs, and musculoskeletal and neurological development. The doctor also will review your child’s health history and update immunizations.
  • Orders screenings and tests. The doctor may prescribe vision and hearing tests; a lead screening; a tuberculin test; a urinalysis; and tests for anemia, cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
  • Updates your plan for chronic conditions. Does your child have asthma, diabetes or another health concern? Have any symptoms changed? Discuss with the doctor how the condition affects your child emotionally.
  • Promotes healthy lifestyle choices. Does your child hound you for candy or fast food or battle you over computer time? Your doctor can explain the importance of healthful eating and suggest appropriate physical activities for good health.
  • Tackles tough topics. Parents may find it hard to bring up alcohol or drug use, smoking, sexuality, depression and more. Your doctor can discuss injury and violence prevention and explain puberty changes—especially important for a middle-schooler or teen who seeks advice from peers.

Yearly physicals offer a chance for your child to build a trusting relationship with another adult and establish a lifetime of healthy habits.

It’s not too early to start thinking about the next school year!
Spring and summertime is when you should schedule your child’s back-to-school and sports physicals. The State Department of Public Instruction sets the wellness exam requirements for school-age children, starting at the 4K level. At this type of well-child visit, your child’s physician will record your child’s height, weight, and blood pressure, and conduct a physical exam and vision test. If your child is due for any vaccinations, WIAA sports physicals, or other age-appropriate developmental screening questionnaires, those tests will take place as well. Your child’s back-to-school exam is also the perfect time to discuss any other health and wellness concerns with your child’s doctor.
   For more information about family wellness with Fort HealthCare, visit FortHealthCare.com/FamilyWellness.

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