Many of you will be going to camp or other organized activities and will need a complete physical exam. This is the proper time to schedule an appointment for checkups before the summer rush. Regardless, we, at Pediatric Health Care, as well as the American academy of Pediatrics recommend a complete Physical Exam every year starting at age three. Furthermore, the vast majority of insurance companies do approve a yearly physical exam.
Some parents have asked why their child needs to come to the office for a complete physical every year, even if they seem perfectly healthy. Children are not “little adults” and a lot can change as each year goes to the next. The doctors at Pediatric Health Care Associates are experts in child development and child assessment. While children between ages two and six are usually not big eaters, it is still important to look at their growth and diet. Kids who are overweight by age five are much more likely to be overweight as teenagers and adults. This predisposes them to all the related adult health risks such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and strokes. By plotting weight, height and Body Mass Index (BMI), we can be sure they are growing appropriately. Healthy height velocity suggests normal levels of growth hormone and other factors necessary for steady growth.
Adolescence has its own set of problems for parents and teens. Puberty comes at different times for different kids, which can cause concerns of growing too soon or not soon enough. The doctor can talk about what to expect during puberty: increased appetite, moodiness, increased sleep requirement, and, for girls, periods. Discussions can be started about peer pressure, cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, driving, and/or difficulties at school. Your doctor may want to speak with your teenager in private.
An annual physical examination is a very important safeguard. We are able to take the extra time to examine all of your child, including areas not inspected during most sick visits. We check for innumerable problems by observation and palpation. We may check your child’s vision, hearing, urine, or blood. We screen for Diabetes, Urinary Tract Infection, Anemia, Blood Disorders, Cholesterol, Lead and more.
We check the spine for scoliosis, the heart for the development of a heart murmur or rhythm changes. We palpate the abdomen and carefully check the lymph nodes to help detect early swellings or enlargement of the organs that may be the first signs of a silent disease or even a tumor.
Thankfully, the majority of physical examinations result in a clean bill of health… But our doctors, during “well visits”, have picked up numerous cases of critically important diseases in their early stages and absolutely have saved lives in doing so. We value the trust and confidence you have placed in our doctors and staff at Pediatric Health Care Associates and appreciate being able to take the best possible care of your child.