For many parents, coping with the many changes the teenage years bring can be a challenge. With issues like online and offline peer pressure, school stress, eating disorders and depression, having a professional health partner can be a huge help.
More Than Just Growth Charts And Shots
Visits to the pediatrician are often associated with babies and younger children who require regular care and immunization shots. But as the years go on and we see our children growing into strong, robust and healthy teens, annual wellness exams seem unnecessary. Often at this stage, a visit to the pediatrician only occurs when approval is required for a sports physical form. But did you know that your pediatrician does more than just a physical health check?
The role of your pediatrician changes as your child grows. During adolescence, your pediatrician becomes an active health partner who can help you and your teenager through this age of transition.To ensure your teen stays in the best health, he or she can provide guidance and advice, address questions and provide proper information. This is why all teens, and not just those involved in sports, can truly benefit from a wellness exam.
Why Are Teen Wellness Visits Important?
There are five reasons why your teenager should still see the pediatrician:
Wellness exams ensure your teen is developing healthfully, inside and out
As when they were younger, the physical exams and assessments during wellness visit help ensure that teens are developing healthily. Beyond these, there will be discussions about nutrition, exercise, good health habits and how to avoid risky behaviors.
A wellness exam helps prevent potential health problems
Many illnesses begin before your teen looks or feels sick. A health check can identify potential health problems that may require further screening or intervention, allowing your child to be treated early before he or she gets worse.
Routine wellness exams help guide your teen through physical, emotional and sexual health questions or issues
Adolescence can be a confusing time for your teen. With raging hormones, growth spurts and puberty, it is important for teens to have a health advocate they can trust to guide them through these changes. Knowing your child's developmental background, your pediatrician can better guide you and your teen with his or her physical, emotional and sexual health.
A wellness exam encourages your teen to take responsibility for his or her own health
Teens can opt to speak with their pediatrician one-on-one. This frees them to privately ask their own health-related questions and concerns. By doing so, teens become more invested in their health and understand the need to take responsibility for their well-being.
Information presented is tailored around the specific needs of your teen
In the age of social media and online search, it is all too easy to get information and self-prescribe. But you must ask yourself: is this information correct for my teen, given his or her medical history? By nurturing your partnership with your pediatrician, you can be assured of providing the best care tailored around your teen’s specific needs.
What Happens During A Teen Wellness Exam?
Similar to baby and child well visits, your teen will go through a standard health check. This can be followed by age-specific discussions around his or her health and well-being. You can expect the following from a teen wellness exam:
- A complete head-to-toe physical examination
- An assessment of growth and development
- An update of immunizations, if needed
- A discussion on healthy habits and possible risky behaviors
- A private chat between teen and pediatrician to discuss concerns, if desired
Given this, wouldn't you want to schedule a well visit for your teenager? After all, not only will you be better informed of his or her health, but you will gain a knowledgeable partner in tackling the challenges and transitions of adolescence.
Dr. Aileen Puno is a board-certified pediatrician at Franciscan Physician Network County Line Pediatrics in Greenwood, Indiana.
More Wellness Tips
By Aileen Puno, MD, FAAP
Board-Certified Pediatrician, Franciscan Physician Network County Line Pediatrics, Greenwood