Preventative Care for Adolescents

Preventative and proactive care are essential to overall health and well-being. We’re fortunate to live in a time when so many, seemingly “simple” health conditions can be treated with a round of medication or a routine surgical procedure. Even so, Family Wellness Center’s goal is to provide care in such a routine and connected way, that we stop certain diseases or health conditions from taking up residence in the first place.

The good news is that most health insurance plans cover preventative care, so these visits are low cost or the copayment is waived.   The American Academy of Pediatrics finds that low-income and underinsured teens are less likely to receive the preventative care and medical treatment they need, even though these services are often at no cost.  If your adolescent/teen hasn’t had their annual checkup, please contact us to schedule an appointment.

The types of preventative care we provide will vary according to your teen’s or your family’s needs. Depending on your adolescent, their medical history, and your family medical history, preventative care visits are annually or every other year dependent upon your health plan.

Here is what preventative adolescent care looks like:

The annual wellness visit

As a baby and toddler, it felt like your child was in the office for scheduled wellness visits every few weeks – and they often were! By the time they reach adolescence, however, children may only need to come in once a year for their annual wellness visit. During this visit, we’ll weigh and measure, get a blood pressure reading, take a look at ears, eyes, noses and throats and we’ll listen to their heart and lungs. We’ll also gently palpate the abdomen, underarms and groin to make sure there is no latent swelling, unusual bumps or glands/lymph nodes that signal infection.

We will discuss how your child is feeling, learn about their life in general, and we’ll discuss a range of lifestyle habits. We’ll also allow them (and you!) to ask questions or share concerns. Depending on what we learn, we may provide further information about:  diet and exercise for a healthy lifestyle, how important it is to get good sleep, mental wellness information, alcohol and drug awareness, etc. Female patients will be asked about their menstrual history – if they have one and we’ll provide information about what it means to get your period, the general workings of the female reproductive system, etc.

The wellness visit provides the opportunity to review the child’s medical chart so we can ensure he/she is up to date on vaccinations. For adolescents, they should be current on:

  • Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (dTAP)preventative care for adolescents
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b (HiB)
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Inactivated Poliovirus
  • Influenza (Flu Shot)
  • Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR)
  • Meningococcal
  • Pneumococcal
  • Rotavirus
  • Varicella

In adolescence, before they are sexually active, we also recommend that all teens age 12 and older are vaccinated for Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). This one vaccine can prevent the spread of one of the most prevalent STDs, HPV which is associated with higher cervical and other reproductive cancer risk in women.

We may also feel  it is necessary to educate the adolescent patient on what it means to be sexually active, how to prevent STDs, and the types of birth control that are available to adolescents and teens – again, these services are commonly available for free, depending on your health plan.

Mental Wellness Screenings

Depending on what we learn in our conversation(s) with your teen, and/or input from you, we may also provide or make a referral for mental wellness screening.  Adolescence is a challenging stage of life.  The combination of hormonal changes and the general social pressures of the times can wreak havoc on a teenager’s mental and emotional well-being. It can be difficult for a child, teen and/or parent to know what is developmentally normal, and what is a sign that something more serious is going on. We recommend reading, Keeping Your Teen Healthy, to learn more about teens and their acute risk for certain health- and behaviorally related issues.

Mental wellness screenings are designed to catch things like depression, excessive anxiety, eating disorders, addiction, and more. If we feel your child needs additional information, support and/or resources we will guide you along the next step and put you in touch with the right resources.

Are you the parent of an adolescent or teen? Please give Vancouver’s Family Wellness Center a call at 360-260-2773 to learn more about preventative care services that will keep them healthy, happy and whole.

We look forward to helping you and your family weather the teen years in good health and positive spirits.

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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