There are a considerable number of adolescents missing out on their annual checkups and routine physicals. Not because their parents don’t have them covered or because they aren’t experiencing occasional bouts of sickness every now and then, but because many teens believe that if they are generally in good health, there is no need to frequent the doctor. If you are a parent of a teen with such a belief, you may even come to the conclusion that your teens are fine as well. However, checkups act as preventative care that screens them for potential issues before they have a chance to impact their health in a significant way. If you are unsure how often your teen should receive a checkup, let’s break it down in the guide below!
What Do Checkups Accomplish?
Many teens fail to recognize the importance of visiting the doctor. Although the doctor’s office is thought of as the first stop when something is wrong with us, it acts more as a form of protection to identify when problems may be developing. Checkups are designed to protect your teen and look for health issues like:
- Obesity and unhealthy cholesterol levels
- Eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating
- Mood disorders like depression and anxiety
- Use of or damage from alcohol and drugs
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Vision loss
- Hearing loss (these tests may be conducted in a separate hearing clinic, where there are audiologists)
These are just a few of the health checks that will be conducted when your teen meets with your doctor. As you can see from the above, it is important that these items are screened for as many of them can lead to more serious complications later on.
So, How Often Should I Be Taking My Teen to See Our Doctor?
Beyond the typical visits needed when your teen catches the flu or doesn’t seem to be recovering quickly from another illness, you should actually be bringing your child into the doctor’s office for a comprehensive annual checkup. These checkups will provide a full screening of all of the common issues listed above and will serve as an educational platform for teens to learn more about their health. Unlike children, teens will be going through developmental changes that may raise questions about nutrition (for teens who want to make sure they are eating healthy or developing muscles), sexual health, mental health, and other aspects of their bodies. It’s important that these questions are answered and that the right tools are provided for them.
If your teen’s annual checkup is harder to follow through with as a result of a lack of funds or having no insurance, you should look around for insurance plans that you can afford and ones that cover your teen to the best of their ability. Even if you missed open enrollment, there may be an opportunity to get coverage if you explore your options. Additionally, under the Affordable Care Act, insurance providers have to provide coverage for teens who need well-child visits (annual visits designed to track their health and development), which means that you may be able to avoid paying anything for your teen’s annual checkups. Although money problems may happen, making sure that your family is healthy and happy is the most important thing to focus on!
While most of us only experience the occasional bout of sickness here and there, we are not always aware of other conditions that may be gradually building over time and impacting our physical or emotional health. In order to catch those before they have the opportunity to progress into something problematic, it is important that your teen visits the doctor at least every year to receive the screening they need for common health issues in their age group.