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Children’s physicals function to monitor developmental progress, identify potential health complications and provide medical interventions and counseling that help prevent disease and injuries in the future. Also known as well-child exams, children’s physicals are endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics as an opportunity not only to oversee a child’s health and development but also for parents to discuss questions and concerns they may have about expectations for physical, emotional, academic and social development. Parents work together with their children’s providers to achieve optimal pediatric and adolescent health.
Did you know…
that immunizations play an important role children’s physicals? It is during this time – when a child is visiting the providers in good health, rather than sick – that vaccinations are administered to prevent dangerous diseases. The AAP’s vaccine schedule is updated frequently to reflect the latest recommendations, which include vaccines to protect against diseases like hepatitis, measles, influenza, and the chicken pox. Because children experience rapid physical development and also require the most vaccinations in the first few months of life, most kids will visit a providers for a children’s physical approximately 10 times between birth and age 2.
Yes. Even if your child seems healthy, a providers can identify possible underlying problems, such as high BMI or developmental delays. The American Academy of Pediatrics has very specific recommendations for children’s physicals. Kids visit every few months until age two, and then annually between ages 2 and 6. After age 6, well-child exams are every other year until age 10, when annual recommendation resume.
Your child will be measured and weighed, and the providers will conduct various screenings to ensure your child’s health and development are on track for his or her age. You’ll have an opportunity to ask questions, and your son or daughter will receive immunizations based on the schedule recommended by the AAP.
Possibly. If your child’s providers finds any underlying health problems, you may be advised to take steps to manage your child’s diet, sleep, and activity levels. Depending on the results of the exam, your child may also require additional screenings, tests, procedures or medications.
An annual physical is important for health maintenance and disease prevention. Adults who get annual physicals are more likely to discover potential health complications before they become serious and they are more aware of the importance of lifestyle choices and how they affect overall wellbeing. Several tests and screenings are performed to verify the health of the body’s various organs and systems. If a problem is uncovered during a routine check-up, treatment can begin immediately to slow or even halt its progression.
Did you know?
that annual physicals were not commonplace in America until the 1940’s? Their popularity has since escalated, with the National Institutes of Health reporting that more than 9 in 10 Americans now believe routine exams are essential for healthy living. In addition to patients, providers also believe yearly adult physicals are important – and not just for health reasons. Visiting a [city] providers on a periodic basis helps establish a trusting relationship that facilitates communication and trust when potential health problems arise.
Yes. You should get a check-up with your providers every year. However, the types of screenings and exams that you’ll have may vary from year to year depending on your age and health.
If it is your first time visiting your providers, you’ll complete paperwork about your personal and family health history, as well as any medications you may be taking and symptoms you may be having. A nurse or medical assistant may weigh you and check your blood pressure. When the providers comes into your exam room, you’ll have the opportunity to discuss symptoms and ask any questions you may have. You may then be submitted to a series of tests that screen for diseases or systemic complications. Finally, your providers may provide lifestyle recommendations for healthy living and also encourage you to update your vaccinations.
Your providers may recommend making certain changes to your lifestyle habits following your exam. For example, you may be encouraged to exercise more, eat more healthfully, get more sleep, reduce your stress, or even begin taking certain vitamins, supplements or medications.
Back-to-school is a busy time of year filled with books, class schedules, school supplies, and shopping for new clothes. It is also the time of year when students head to the providers for school physicals. Though not always required, school physicals are a way of monitoring a student’s general health and physical abilities, as well as detect any underlying conditions that could hinder classroom and athletic performance.
Did you know…
that some schools insist on mandatory physical exams before the start of a new school year? This is especially true of students who participate in certain activities, such as sports or marching band. You may be required to provide proof of your child’s physical and submit a providers statement of your child’s eligibility to participate in extracurricular activities.
Yes. School physicals vary from your child’s annual check-up. This is an opportunity to ensure that your child’s vision and hearing are healthy and that your child is in good physical health to participate in athletic activities. School physicals are also the time to review vaccination records and update your child’s immunizations.
What should I expect during a school physical?
During your child’s school physical, you will be asked to complete a history of his or her health and family health. The providers will examine your child’s general health, reflexes, flexibility, overall physical fitness, hearing, and vision. Based on the information gathered during the exam, your child’s providers will discuss potential risks of injury and provide suggestions for treatment if applicable.
Most parents bring their children to the providers for school physicals in the weeks prior to the start of a new school year. However, you may find that other times throughout the year are appropriate as well. For example, many parents opt for student health exams before spring training begins or before their children leave for summer camp.
Recurrent Pneumonia and Respiratory Tract Infections
Nearly all children have respiratory infections from time to time, which are some of the most common causes of pediatric providers and hospital visits. Usually, they are caused by viral infections or bacterial infections. However, some children develop recurrent infections, which may be a sign of an underlying pulmonary condition, such as bronchiectasis or COPD. Any child with recurrent pneumonia or other respiratory tract infections should see a pulmonologist to determine the cause of illness.
Did you know…
that most cases of recurrent pneumonia are diagnosed in children with a predisposing health condition? Recurrent pneumonia is recognized as two or more episodes of pneumonia in a 12-month period with x-ray confirmation of clearing in between. Symptoms of pneumonia may include fever, chills, body aches, and pain when breathing deep or coughing.
Schedule a pulmonary appointment for your child if he or she has a recurring case of pneumonia or is frequently diagnosed with other respiratory infections, such as chronic bronchitis or sinusitis. Though recurrences of respiratory infections may be due to exposure to infectious agents, only a providers can determine what types of steps should be taken to treat your child and prevent additional infection in the future.
Recurrent infections may be caused by one or more of many different reasons. Some children are simply exposed to more than one virus, bacteria or fungi that results in illness. However, recurrent respiratory infections may also be more likely in children with certain conditions or risk factors, such as those with asthma, a weakened immune system or frequent exposure to second-hand smoke.
The treatment for pneumonia and respiratory tract infections is often an antibiotic. These medications may also work on some forms of recurrent pneumonia. However, many cases of recurrent pneumonia and other types of respiratory infections may require anti-inflammatory medications, at-home care, and treatment for underlying health conditions.
Wheezing is a sound produced by narrowed airways when breathing. As air passes through these constricted passages, it produces a high-pitched whistling sound. Wheezing can occur either when inhaling or exhaling though the latter is most common. A child who is wheezing is often experiencing difficulty breathing and may need to seek medical attention.
If your child is wheezing, you can help relieve his or her symptoms by placing your child in an area with warm, moist air. Many children find relief from wheezing after sitting in a steamy shower or sleeping in a room with a vaporizer. Drinking warm fluids may also be beneficial. Ensure that your children avoid exposure to tobacco smoke, which may worsen a wheezing cough.
Wheezing can be a symptom of many different conditions, ranging from mild to severe? Some of the most common causes of wheezing in children include:
Your child may need to see a providers about wheezing if the condition appears for the first time or if it is recurrent without any explanation. Take your child to the nearest emergency room for wheezing caused by an allergic reaction or wheezing that is associated with shortness of breath, confusion or bluish skin.
If your child is wheezing, a providers may first check for blockages in your child’s airway. If your child has not swallowed any foreign objects, he or she may be able to relieve a wheezing cough by prescribing an inhaler. Efforts may also be made to treat or manage the underlying condition responsible for wheezing, which may help minimize symptoms. In some cases, further medical interventions may be necessary.
Menopause is a natural part of life as normal as menstruation or having a baby. All women eventually enter menopause though some sooner than later. When menopause occurs, the body stops producing an egg each month during ovulation and menstruation halts. Aside from changes to menstrual cycles, women entering menopause may begin to experience side effects of hormonal changes, such as hot flashes, night sweats, weight gain, vaginal dryness, and thinning hair.
Did you know…
that the average age of onset for menopause is 51 for American women? However, menopause is most likely to occur at any time between the ages of 40 and 60.Some women even go through early menopause, which is menopause that occurs before the age of 40. In extremely rare cases, early menopause can occur as young as a woman’s teens or 20s.
Perimenopause is the period when menstruation and ovulation is erratic and menopausal symptoms are beginning to set in. Menopause is not said to have occurred until a year has passed since a woman last menstruated. You could be approaching menopause if you are experiencing the symptoms of perimenopause, although this isn’t likely to occur before age 40.
Your gynecologist will confirm that your symptoms are related to perimenopause or menopause, and he or she will explain the types of symptoms you can expect in the coming months and years. Your providers may also speak to you about hormone replacement therapy, which can help you manage the hormonal changes that occur as your menstrual cycles stop.
If the symptoms of menopause are interacting with your day to day life, do not hesitate to speak with your gynecologist about the ways that you can treat or manage issues like sleep disruptions, anxiety, depression, or low energy.
Annual gynecological exams are preventative tools available to help women identify and treat complications that pose a threat to their health as early as possible. By getting annual exams, women can also learn to maintain a healthy lifestyle and adopt habits that facilitate long-term health. Exams for women often screen for sexually transmitted diseases and include the administration of vaccinations for common diseases like HPV, hepatitis, and the flu. As women age, annual exams may also include discussions about using hormone supplementation to manage the symptoms of, as well as the use of supplements to prevent osteoporosis.
Did you know…
that your annual gynecological exam is an excellent opportunity to discuss family planning with your providers? Your gynecologist can offer fertility counseling, as well as education about ovulation and improving your chances of conception. If you are not yet ready to start a family or are finished having children, you can speak with your gynecologist about your options for birth control.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that you begin getting breast health exams at age 19 and annual pelvic exams with pap smears at age 21. Once your reach age 30, you will still need breast and pelvic exams each year but may space pap smears every two years so long as all previous pap smears have been normal.
Your annual exam will begin with an assessment of your weight and blood pressure, as well as a discussion of any symptoms or health changes you may have experienced since your last visit. Your gynecologist will palpate your breasts to check for lumps or unusual changes to breast tissue. The pelvic exam will also include a manual and visual examination of the cervix, uterus, and vagina. If you are getting a pap test, your providers will swab your cervix to check for the presence of abnormal cells.
Your gynecologist will advise you on any changes you may need to make following your exam. For example, you may be advised to modify your diet, exercise habits or the types of supplements you should be taking each day.
Immunizations are a foundation part of preventive healthcare for children and teens. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control each has recommendations that suggest immunizing children starting at birth. The current vaccination schedule for children contains a list of 12 vaccines that protect against 16 dangerous diseases. The vaccines contain components designed to help the immune system develop antibodies that can fight against future infections. These components may be weakened or inactivated versions of a virus or bacteria or they may contain only parts of a bacterium combined with other proteins. Others, such as the tetanus and diphtheria vaccines, do not contain the bacteria, but rather introduce an inactivated toxin produced by them.
Did you know…
that your child may need a modified vaccination schedule if you plan to travel outside of the country with him or her? According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 2 million children travel internationally every year. Those children are susceptible to diseases that are all but eradicated in the U.S. and Canada. For example, there has not been a documented case of Polio in America in 20 years, yet the disease still plagues many people in Africa and parts of Asia. If your child has not yet completed the recommended vaccination schedule, talk to your pediatrician about an accelerated schedule prior to travel. Other preventive measures, such as medications that help prevent malaria, may also be necessary depending on your destination.
Your child will probably get his or her first vaccination – the hepatitis B shot – in the hospital after birth. A second dose may be administered at the 2 month check-up, during which time your child may also receive immunizations for rotavirus, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, HIB, PCV, and polio. Additional booster vaccines will be necessary periodically. Beginning at age 1, your child will also start receiving vaccinations for chicken pox, measles, mumps, rubella and hepatitis A. Vaccines for meningitis are not given until age 11 or 12. Be sure to speak with your child’s pediatrician about when to start administering annual flu shots.
Vaccinations are not pleasant for children. Once children are old enough to associate shots with the providers office, they may resist going. Try distracting your child with a favorite toy or book brought along for play in the waiting room. You can also comfort your child by holding him or her while the shot is administered. Finally, offer a reward your child can look forward to after the appointment, such as dinner at a favorite restaurant.
Although vaccines are considered safe by the AAP and CDC, there is a possibility of side effects. Of those children who do experience side effects, most have only minor symptoms, such as a low-grade fever or soreness at the site of the injection. Other temporary symptoms may include joint pain, headaches, nausea, cough, diarrhea and upper respiratory infections. The risk of serious or severe side effects is very low but you should discuss them with your child’s pediatrician prior to getting vaccines.