Annual teen doctor visits: Four reasons to get them
By ERICA BARKER
Parents are constantly taking their babies and toddlers to the doctor for all the recommended checkups and appointments. As the children grow older and into their teen years, these doctor visits aren't always continued. Teenage years are filled with mood swings, changing hormones, growing pains, and other challenges - so an annual checkup is still important.
Here are 4 benefits of teen doctor visits:
1. Mental health issues:
The National Alliance on Mental Illness says 1 in 5 children between 13-18 have a serious mental illness or will have one later in life. Screenings for depression, anxiety, and other common issues can be done at general checkups. The primary care family doctor is often the first person to diagnose or refer a teenager with mental health challenges.
2. Sports injuries:
Most teenagers are involved in at least one competitive sport while enrolled in school, and injuries are common. Teenagers sometimes shrug off common injuries such as muscle pulls and ligament tears, but these injuries worsen when left untreated.
For example, sprained ankles can lead to chronic ankle instability and shin splints can lead to tibial stress fractures. It's not a good idea to ignore these injuries because if left untreated, they can lead to more serious problems later.
3. Laboratory Tests:
There are no standard laboratory tests required during teen doctor visits but some doctors will order these common tests routinely:
A complete blood count test gives information about specifics in blood. This can include the cell count for each blood type and the concentration of hemoglobin. These tests can allow doctors to diagnose certain medical conditions such as iron deficiency anemia and leukemia.
A chemistry panel is a group of tests that can determine a person's general health status. These tests can evaluate a person's electrolyte balance or the condition of several organs.
A urinalysis involves checking the appearance, concentration, and content of urine. This test can detect a wide amount of diseases such as urinary tract infections and diabetes.
4. Find a listening ear:
Teenage years can be challenging, and sometimes teens have trouble discussing sensitive topics with their family. They might feel more comfortable talking to their doctor about smoking, alcohol consumption, sexual activity, vehicle safety, and more. This time allows for teenagers to have an open discussion and ask questions.
Teenagers may seem to have healthy bodies, but they are not immune to disease and mental health issues. Teens, like all other ages, should continue to have a teen doctor visit and continue throughout their adult life.