The focus for any parent, aunt, uncle, friend or even nation has always been children: our kids, our future. If they are indeed that important then isn’t it ironic that I will be writing this? Anyway, as I am already writing I will let you in (one again) on the importance of keeping an eye or four on our health through routine check-ups with our primary physician.
Children have immature immune systems and as such are prone to all sorts of illnesses. It could be a cold that gets complicated and becomes pneumonia; or a minor cut that gets infected. Those things that we pass off as normal in an adult can become serious in a child. Hence, the need for regular health check-ups in kids. The interesting thing is that the adult needs to stay alive and healthy to be able to provide the best chances of a normal life for their children. Thus the adult parent needs check-ups too.
I can hear that mom asking, “Do routine health check-ups ever end?”. Well, No. They end when life ends. You would continue to put gas in your car and fix any problems while you have the car (if you want it to keep running well). Your health is equally as important for you as a parent. Engaged parents never miss their child’s dental appointment or routine physical yet many fail to schedule their own check-ups for their teeth and body.
Preventive health care does not end as a parent or at planning a healthy pregnancy. We need to be able to monitor our health throughout our lives. Despite passing on those great genes to your child, with fantastic immunity and a rock-star health profile, all the work is not yet done. Nature needs nurture and as products of nature, we have the moral responsibility both to ourselves and to society to ensure that we tap into the vast medical knowledge and get checked out periodically.
Your child needs you as healthy as you can be to be able to take care of them. Research shows that fewer people are dying of cancer today due to regular check-ups during which the screenings pick these killer diseases before they become untreatable. Every adult should have a medical exam from time to time or a physical exam at least once a year. Dental visits for routine checks and cleanings are also very important, usually 2 times a year as well as vision checks which are recommended every two years for individuals who do not have diabetes.
Many of us adults still dread going to the doctor and the dentist. I do understand. These are subconscious fears that have found their way into our psyche from very tender ages. However, to be a “responsible adult” means we have to take responsibility of our feelings and face our fears.
During these routine visits, one has the opportunity to ask the health care provider questions about one’s health and well-being. A common theme at many visits is the challenges of parenting while earning a living. This can be very stressful and unless the adult addresses it either with their provider or with the child’s provider, it may lead to some serious consequences for the family.
Day to day stress is very common and is on the increase especially with young families and a strangulating economic system. Managing the stress of a regular life with the added responsibility of a new child could be challenging for parents who do not have the right kind of support. According to Dr. Walton of biopsychology and behavioral neuroscience, there is very little but interesting evidence that suggests that a parent’s stress level can affect the child and increase his or her risk of mood disorders, addiction, and even disorders like ADHD and autism. Your healthcare provider can suggest ways to cope and manage your stress levels so it does not affect your child.
Little things like managing a blood pressure, dietary habits, preventing or catching a developing cataracts can be assessed during routine check-ups with the adult’s provider. People generally feel healthy until they do not. Waiting till there is a crises is not the best way to handle an irreplaceable asset, your body. Routine tests like serum cholesterol level or a random glucose check can expose vulnerabilities that would otherwise remain unnoticed. Immunization status check is also important as the primary immunization immunity has started to wane and the adult usually needs boosters for some vaccines like tetanus. It is advisable to set an appointment with your doctor to discuss any test results so that you will have a clearer view of your risks and focus on preventative care to maintain a good stress-free health.
Children learn a lot from their parents. They model their parents from a very young age. A lot of kids may believe that health check-ups or clinic visits are for kids alone. Now imagine the thought process of a child being told ‘daddy is going for a health check-up’? It is important that we get our kids involved in this as well so they know the importance and see it as a necessity when the are scheduled.
I will end this piece where I started. We need a healthy generation. The first of the four overarching goals of the Healthy people 2020 is to “...attain high-quality, longer lives free of preventable disease, disability, injury, and premature death” - this can be attained by keeping regular check up appointments and up to date immunizations so we can be healthy for our children.
If you enjoyed this read please share it with someone who might need a check-up because you care about them. Please look forward to other upcoming posts about the importance of an annual physical.