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The Importance of Routine Adolescent Wellness Check-ups

Health and Wellness, News, In the News, Kids' Health

Adolescence is the time of life from age 11 to 21 years. It is the decade of transition from childhood to adulthood. There is a lot of change that happens in that decade. Think back to when you were 11 years old, then think about when you were 21 years old and all of the things that happened during that time.

Because so much change is happening to our bodies and our emotional health during that time, it is a crucial period for routine medical checkups.

Immunizations

Even if your child has received all routine vaccines up to age 11, there are still vaccines recommended during adolescence. Influenza vaccine is recommended yearly. Other vaccines include Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis booster), HPV (Human Papillomavirus) and Meningococcal vaccine. As of this writing, the COVID vaccine is also recommended for children 12 years and older. The CDC has a page of recommendations and descriptions of the vaccines.

Puberty

It seems like the adolescent body changes daily. There is physical development along with tremendous mental and emotional growth. Puberty is a critical time for your child to regularly visit their healthcare provider to receive guidance and ask questions from someone they trust. Adolescence is a time of increased risk-taking, mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, even thoughts of self-harm. It is when some young people will try substances such as tobacco, alcohol and other drugs. And it is a time of sexual development. You and your child might have questions for your healthcare provider. We recommend giving your child a few minutes alone with their provider so they have the opportunity to ask questions they might not feel comfortable asking in front of family members.

Mental Health

In addition to the everyday stress that adolescents experience, this is also a time of life when chronic mental health issues might arise, such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Having regular checkups with your healthcare provider can help with the identification and management of these problems.

The National Institute of Mental Health talks about some of the signs and symptoms that adolescents might have when experiencing mental health issues.

Diabetes, Hypertension, Cholesterol

Adolescence is a time when chronic conditions we think of as adult problems can start to develop. Adolescents can be screened for high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol. Early treatment for these conditions can help your child have a healthy adulthood. The best prevention is to practice healthy living starting at birth. Regular physical activity, a healthy diet, regular sleep, healthy relationships and avoiding tobacco and other substances can all contribute to a healthy child who grows into a healthy adult. Your healthcare provider can help with advice for a healthy lifestyle for your child and your family.

The American Academy of Family Medicine has good advice about healthy habits for young people.

Healthy Advice

Adolescent checkups are a great time for your child to hear from another adult about the importance of routine habits that make a big difference — advice like brushing your teeth, wearing your bike helmet, wearing your seatbelt, applying sunscreen, protecting your hearing and not staying up too late at night.

It is also an opportunity for your child to talk to someone about stress and how they might manage it. This decade is challenging to navigate and having a trusted healthcare provider with regular checkups can help your adolescent have smoother sailing.

Tillamook County Wellness has much information about healthy lifestyles and family activities, including this map of outdoor recreational activities in Tillamook County.