Adolescent and Teen Physicals during a Pandemic

March 17, 2021

As parents know all too well, adolescent and teen bodies undergo many changes as they grow into early adulthood. From hormonal shifts that can affect their moods to growth spurts leaving closets full of outgrown clothes, this time in your child’s life can keep parents on their toes. It’s all part of a normal developmental phase and it is important to make sure your child is growing healthy.

As we approach the one-year mark of our fight against COVID-19, many teens and adolescents have gone without their regular pediatrician visits and checkups due to concerns around coronavirus. However, parents should still schedule regular physical examinations, including well-child visits, immunizations, and oral health care appointments. AltaMed is taking necessary COVID-19 precautions to help keep families safe during this time.

Doctor with clipboard
Pediatricians can help with a wide variety of health concerns. When necessary, they can also refer patients to a specialist.

Start with a Pediatrician Visit

Even through the teenage years and into the early twenties, your kids’ bodies and brains are changing. Regular and routine exams can help them grow healthy into adulthood. Our pediatricians will take good care of your kids (up until age 21) by reviewing their available health history, looking for early signs of health risks, and making sure they’re getting age-appropriate care. They can also help monitor all of the things listed below.

Fruite adolescent physicals
A well-balanced diet is an essential part of adolescent health. Doctors can make recommendations about what foods children should eat or avoid. 

Weight and Nutrition 

Even before the pandemic, childhood obesity was a growing problem, and it can have lasting physical and emotional effects. Regular physical examinations give your doctor the chance to monitor weight and BMI (body mass index), and open a dialogue about nutrition and exercise that can help your child develop healthy habits for life.​

Woman pointing adolescent
Ask your doctor what vaccines children should be receiving. As they age, kids will become eligible for a variety of important immunizations.

​Vaccinations 

Despite all the focus on the coronavirus, other viruses and diseases have not taken a break. Teens and adolescents still need their routine, age-appropriate immunizations. This year, it’s more important than ever that every member of your family gets their flu shot. Your teen or adolescent may need other routine vaccines to protect against:

Talk to your doctor to find out about “makeup” Tdap shots to protect against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. 

Woman on couch
​A large number of adolescents struggle mental health disorders, including anxiety and depression. If you suspect your child is suffering, don’t wait to speak with a professional.

Mental Health

This is a stressful time for everyone, your teen included. With many of the support systems they’ve come to rely on like sports, the arts, or a worship community drastically changing or no longer available, teens can have a difficult time coping and their mental health may be suffering. Depression and anxiety are common, even pre-pandemic.

Half of all mental health disorders start by age 14 yet many go unrecognized or untreated, and even more concerning, suicide is one of the leading causes of death among teens. 

In this new environment, a routine physical exam is a window of opportunity where a doctor can check in with your teen and ensure they are adapting to stressors and a largely changing environment in a healthy way. 

Taking Control of Their Own Health

As they grow, teens and adolescents have their own questions about their bodies, and the routine physical checkup provides a perfect opportunity for them get answers and start to take ownership for their own health and well-being.

Boy with mask adolescen
Letting your child take an active role in their healthcare will help them build good habits for the future.

This is an important life skill that can lead to a healthy, lifelong curiosity and proactivity around their health. 

​As a parent, you know your child’s health needs are constantly growing and evolving, just like they are. Make sure your child is scheduled to have their regular physical examinations and have the peace of mind knowing AltaMed is here to safely monitor their development and nurture a positive relationship between your teen and their ever-changing health needs. 

For more information about services or to schedule your appointment (888) 499-9303.

Sign Up for COVID-19 Updates

Sign up to receive email updates on the information that matters to you and those you love.

Follow-up Visits for Your Newborn During a Pandemic

April 29, 2020

We know you’re doing everything you can to protect your newborn baby from COVID-19. However, it is vitally important that you bring your baby for in-person, follow-up visits with a pediatrician. Telephone visits are not an appropriate substitute for in-person, follow-up care.

As recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, regular, in-person visits, starting at 48 hours after their release from the hospital, are crucial for your baby’s health. Your doctor needs to be able to monitor your baby’s progress, which includes checking:

  • Weight and length
  • Reflexes
  • How well the baby is feeding
  • Sleep patterns
  • If they’re peeing and pooping like they should

These checkups can help your doctor identify any problems early – which could be the difference between life and death.

These visits are also your chance to learn more about your baby and how to be a good parent. Bring your questions to your doctor – no question is too small.

Follow Your Doctor’s Instructions

Newboin visit

Your doctor’s office will explain the purpose of every visit and can even help you schedule these visits ahead of time. Make it a priority to keep every single appointment.

It’s even more important than ever that your baby receives the right immunizations at the right time, and your doctor will advise you on this. For older children, we offer drive-up immunization clinics at some of our locations. Call us at (888) 499-9303 to learn more.

AltaMed can provide information to you and your family about the best way to protect yourself and your family from COVID-19. To receive the latest news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, sign up today.

7 Ways to Support Your Child’s Mental Health

June 19, 2020

Our children and teenagers are suffering the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the civil unrest that has shaken our nation, just like we are. Even if they and their immediate families have stayed healthy, these crises have taken a toll on young people. From the outrage over the murders of countless unarmed Black people at the hands of the police and the racism it put on display, to the sadness of missing important life milestones, and the anxiety they surely feel from all of the bad news out there, our youth need our support more than ever.

It’s natural that many of our children are sad and grieving, but increasingly, health experts worry about long-term mental health issues. While it’s true that children are often tougher, smarter, and more resilient than we give them credit for, we need to take their mental health seriously. Here are a few ways you can support your children.

Let Your Kids Be Sad and Grieve

Section 1As a parent, it’s natural that you want to protect your child from pain. However, denying them or trying to distract them from their sadness is actually doing them a big disservice. According to AltaMed’s Director of Behavioral Health, Sandra Pisano, PsyD, this can make your child less resilient, which means they may have a harder time bouncing back from future sadness and disappointment. To help your child develop this important resiliency, help them participate in creative and playful activities. “Creativity and play stimulate the “pleasure” and “calming” parts of the brain, which in turn prevents or reduces sad and fearful reactions,” Dr. Pisano says. You might consider challenging your child to draw or write a story about what they’re feeling. This will stimulate their creativity while allowing them to honestly process their thoughts.

Communicate Honestly but Optimistically

Section 2

Even if your first instinct is to protect your kids from the harsh realities of current events, this could backfire. To some degree, your kids know what’s going on – and if they aren’t getting the full picture, they are probably imagining that things are much worse than they really are.

Communicate with them honestly and frequently, including discussions about the impact of recent events, especially if your family or friends have been directly affected. Be straightforward and include reasons for optimism, too – for example, point to how individuals and communities across the country have pulled together to offer support for one another during these uncertain times.

Introduce Them to Mindfulness

Section 3Maybe you’ve heard about mindfulness at your job or from a social media influencer. It’s the practice of being present: slowing down, doing one thing at a time, and focusing on living in each moment.

Mindfulness can help kids deal with anxiety and negative emotions, but it also has many other positive benefits, such as helping them make better decisions and improving their self-esteem. And, if they learn mindfulness at an early age, they can use it for the rest of their lives.

If you’re new to the concept, there’s a simple exercise you both can practice together. When you or your child find yourself in a stressful or uncomfortable situation, just STOP:

S: Stop. Whatever you’re doing, take a time-out.
T: Take a breath. As you breathe, tune everything out but the feeling of pulling air into your body.
O: Observe. Notice what is happening, and your thoughts and feelings, too.
P: Proceed. Whatever you do next, think about what you’ve experienced in this moment.

Some people who practice mindfulness combine it with meditation, but you don’t have to – and neither do your kids. The best way to teach your kids mindfulness is to practice it yourself, and then together.

Limit Their Intake of News

Section 4Thanks to social media and being home all the time, we’re all seeing more news than ever – and many of us are finding that it’s terrible for our mental health.

An easy way to limit the intake of news is by limiting device usage and screen time. Think about creating device-free zones or times – for example, no devices at the dinner table or an hour before bedtime. You can also make time for your family to watch or read the news then talk about it. Try to speak about the news honestly, while also emphasizing any positive aspects, and discuss what you can do to keep your family safe, healthy, and connected to loved ones during this time.

Keep Providing a Healthy Environment

Section 5One of the best ways to support your child is by continuing to maintain a nurturing, stable environment.

Recognize the Signs that Something’s Not Right

Section 6We all know kids – especially teenagers – can be moody. However, look out for these clear signs that there could be a bigger problem.

  • Noticeable changes in personality and temperament
  • Fatigue or claiming to be tired all the time
  • Anger or acting out – children often mask their depression with aggressive behavior
  • Socially withdrawn
  • Difficulty thinking or concentrating
  • Expressing feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness
  • Talk of self-harm or suicide

Get Them Help If They Need It

Section 7Depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues are real, and they can have serious consequences for children if left untreated. If you believe something is wrong, talk to your pediatrician. They may be able to give you additional guidance or refer you to a Behavioral Health specialist.

Our pediatricians are taking appointments now – your child may be able to have a virtual visit, but in-person visits are required for immunizations. Your and your child’s mental health matters to us, and we want to help!

AltaMed can provide information to you and your family about the best way to protect yourself and your family from COVID-19. To receive the latest news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, sign up today.