The Importance of Back to School Check-Ups

Senior female doctor examining happy child, smiling.

It is hard to believe August is already halfway over! As you begin to prepare for the new school year with school supplies and new clothes, don’t forget another important back-to-school necessity: your child’s annual well-child exam. Children and adolescents should get a check-up every year, and school districts require evidence of these checks at certain ages. Older children who require a sports physical can get that accomplished at this visit.

What to Expect

At this yearly exam, your provider can answer any questions or concerns you may have, ensure your child is growing appropriately, check in regarding any chronic conditions your child may have such as allergies and asthma, and examine your child to ensure he/she is healthy. This appointment gives your provider a chance to address any physical, emotional, developmental, or social concerns. Being proactive helps prevent future illnesses and ensures immunizations are always up to date – plus it’s the easiest way to make sure your child is hitting all the correct growth and developmental milestones.

These yearly check-ups are also a great way to make sure your children learn that seeing their healthcare provider consistently is necessary for optimal health. Childhood and early adolescence are critical times to institute as many healthy behaviors as possible, including eating well and getting enough physical activity. Many risk behaviors are also formed during this critical period, and the annual check-up can help providers to identify these behaviors and partner with families to address the problems.

Get a Head Start

Back to school is a hectic time filled with to-do lists, shopping lists, and fitting in any last minute summer vacations; but, in the midst of all of that, the annual check-up is the most important thing for your child. It’s important to go into these appointments adequately prepared. In order to be as ready as possible, make sure to take care of these things before the appointment:

  • Make sure you have all the forms that need to be signed by your provider including those for:
    • Daycare
    • School
    • Sports
  • If your child needs any sort of medication or inhaler, bring the official permission form that allows school professionals to give your child the necessary medication – whether it’s daily or just in an emergency
  • A compiled list of any questions or concerns you want addressed

If you’re seeing a doctor for the first time, there’s a little more pre-appointment work. Make sure you write down important information including:

  • Any history of fainting, shortness of breath, or other major medical occurrences as well as any important family history such as a history of heart disease
  • Any allergies, chronic illnesses, past surgeries, broken bones, etc.
  • Any medicine your child is taking including prescription, over-the-counter, vitamins, herbs or supplements. Include the dosage.
  • Vaccination history

Seasonal Allergies & Your Child

nurse with coughing childAs spring finally settles in around us, so does allergy season. Up to 40 percent of children in the United Status suffer from seasonal allergies. If you and/or your partner have allergies, this increases the chance that your child has allergies too. Seasonal allergies are annoying, yet relatively harmless. But when do they stop being harmless? We’ve put together some tips on when you should take your child to an allergist or when it might be more than just allergies.


Seasonal Allergies

Seasonal allergies are allergy symptoms that occur during particular times of the year, usually when outdoor molds release their spores, and trees, grasses, and weeds release tiny pollen particles into the air to fertilize other plants. When your child is allergic to mold spores or pollen, their immune system treats these allergens as an attack. Their immune system then releases chemicals, including histamine, as a defense which causes allergy symptoms, from itchy eyes to a runny nose.

Seasonal allergies can start at almost any age, even if your child hasn’t had allergies in the past. Usually, they develop by the time your child is 10 and reach their peak in their early twenties.



If you notice your child experiences cold like symptoms around the same time every year, it could be seasonal allergies. These symptoms, which usually appear suddenly and last as long as a person is exposed to a particular allergen, can include:

  • Sneezing
  • Itchy nose and/or throat
  • Nasal congestion
  • Clear, runny nose
  • Coughing
  • Itchy, watery eyes


When To See A Doctor

Most seasonal allergies can be treated with child-specific, over-the-counter antihistamine or allergy medications. However, if your child starts wheezing, struggles to catch their breath or they frequently feel a tightness in their chest, that could be a sign that the allergies have progressed into asthma, and you should make an appointment to see your pediatric provider right away. Other signs that indicate its time to take your child to your pediatric provider:

  • If your child is experiencing chronic sinus infections, nasal congestion or difficulty breathing.
  • If your child’s symptoms seem to pop up over many different months out of the year
  • If antihistamines and over-the-counter medications do not have any affect on your child’s symptoms.
  • If allergies or asthma seem to be preventing your child from doing normal, every day activities.

Before your visit with your pediatric provider, be sure to take note of when your child’s symptoms are most prevalent: are they outside or inside? Is it day or night? Look for any patterns—the repetitiveness is the biggest indicator that the symptoms your child may be experiencing are linked to allergies, seasonal or otherwise. Most importantly, a fever is never associated with allergies and is usually a sign of something more serious. With this information, your pediatric provider can better determine if a referral to an allergist is necessary.

Hopefully these tips will help you feel more at ease about seasonal allergies, but you should never hesitate calling or scheduling an appointment with your pediatric provider if you’re concerned with new symptoms your child is experiencing.

Procedures at Dakota Pediatrics Average 25-30% Less Than Average

Preliminary results of an MN Community Measurements (MNCM) report show that the typical costs of common procedures provided by the trusted staff at Dakota Pediatrics ranks as one of the most inexpensive across the state. (View full report here).

The study compares the total amount paid by both insurance and patient accountability, between the four major Minnesota health plans including: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, HealthPartners, Medica and PreferredOne. The chosen procedures to compare were based on volume of claims and commonality so patients can easily compare what you pay now, to what you may pay for procedures across several providers.

Dakota Pediatrics Blog

Our focus at Dakota Pediatrics is first and foremost the health of your family. We strive to personalize each visit for every patient and believe that exceptional care should not be costly or simply unattainable.

Learn more about the services offered at Dakota Pediatrics for your family today!