Preparing for a successful school year

Dr. Glendon Cook encourages Back to School Healthy Habits to prepare for a successful school year. Courtesy/LAMC

By GLENDON COOK, M.D.
Los Alamos Medical Center

As summer break comes to an end, there is much to do in preparation for the new school year.

The two most important things to do may seem routine, but that doesn’t make them less of a priority: Schedule annual physicals for you and your family and get up-to-date on immunizations. Routine wellness checkups are essential to your family’s continued health and are an integral part of children’s health care. In fact, seeing a provider for regular preventive care is one of the best ways to help identify and treat health problems before they become serious.

This includes visiting your dermatologist yearly to check for any skin health issues, including suspicious or unusual spots that could be cancerous, as well as any other skin health issues you might think are harmless. After a long, hot summer, there’s no better time to make sure you’re doing your part to help your skin stay healthy.

When scheduling checkups, don’t skip vision and mental health screenings, including depression screenings starting at age 12. Eye health and mental health are vital components of overall health for both children and adults.

Annual physicals also allow your child’s pediatrician to confirm that your child’s immunizations are up to date and answer any questions you may have about your child’s health. However, keeping up with vaccinations and health issues isn’t just vital for children. Adult vaccines are recommended based on several factors, so ask your primary care provider which vaccines you may need. Be sure to ask your family’s provider about vaccinations for diseases like the flu, meningococcal and human papillomavirus (HPV), and others. And mention any health-related issues you may be personally experiencing as well.

Some more tips to prepare your family for a healthy and successful school term:

  • Eat well and stay active. Healthy students learn better. That’s why it’s crucial for children to eat nutritious meals and maintain a healthy weight. In addition to getting the nutrients their bodies need, experts recommend that kids get at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day to help reduce stress and increase focus.
  • Make sleep a priority. Lack of sleep can lead to a variety of health problems for students and parents alike, including memory problems, difficulty concentrating, a weakened immune system, common heart problems, depression, and even obesity. Healthy sleep hygiene can contribute to better weight control, better mood and higher productivity
  • Wash your hands regularly and prevent the spread of germs. It is well known that the school year can feature a variety of colds, stomach bugs, and other communicable illnesses. One of the most effective ways to defend against germs is to wash your hands, so always wash your hands before eating, after using the bathroom, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • do not smoke E-cigarettes are the most widely used tobacco product among youth in the U.S. The nicotine found in these popular smoking devices, like the nicotine found in other tobacco products, can harm the adolescent brain developing, specifically the areas of the brain that are responsible for learning, memory, and attention

To reach their full potential in the classroom, students need to be as healthy as possible, both physically and mentally. By following simple tips like those outlined above, you can better prepare your family for the coming months and make this school year one for the books.

Whether your family needs a primary care provider, dermatologist, mental health specialist, vision care provider, or pediatrician, LAMC can help. Call 505.662.4201 or visit the Find a Doctor/Provider tab on Losalamosmedicalcenter.com to connect with the right care for your family.

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