Well-child exams important as children head back to school this fall


Physician Article

Well-child exams important as children head back to school this fall


With August being back-to-school month, parents are making sure immunizations are up-to-date for their children, and they’re vigilant about scheduling athletic physicals.

According to Dr. Sana Muneer, a physician at West Georgia Primary Care in Hogansville, many parents tend to overlook a vital step in making sure their children are healthy: the annual health exam, also known as a well-child exam or yearly physical.

“Fall is a great time to make an annual health exam part of the regular back-to-school routine,” Dr. Muneer said. “Many parents don’t think it’s necessary if a child doesn’t seem to be experiencing any health issues, and parents of athletes may think that an athletic physical is equivalent to a well-child exam.”

A sports physical is designed to clear an athlete so he or she can participate in sports. It normally includes a physical examination and a short discussion of the child’s medical history.

A well-child exam, however, covers much more, including a physical examination; vision and hearing screening; a discussion of the child’s medical history, weight, height and body mass index; a conversation about sleep habits, nutrition, physical and social development/activity, and risks to health and safety; a status of chronic conditions; and an immunization update.

“Annual health exams are important, and fortunately, they are usually uneventful,” Dr. Muneer said. “But about 1 percent of the time, your doctor will discover a serious condition, and if your child is in that 1 percent, he or she may be treated more successfully if a health condition is caught at an early stage before it becomes serious.”

High cholesterol due to family history or nutrition is an example of a condition that can be treated more effectively if caught early, Dr. Muneer said.

An annual health exam also gives your physician a barometer for measuring a child’s health from year to year, especially when it comes to physical development.

In addition to school-age children, Dr. Muneer and her staff see patients of all ages at West Georgia Primary Care.

“That’s what I love about my job,” she said. “I get to interact with all ages every day, and I see new things every day. And with patients I see on a regular basis with chronic conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure, it’s very rewarding to work with them and see their progress in improving their health.”

Besides diabetes and high blood pressure, Dr. Muneer treats other chronic conditions such as heart disease, high cholesterol, asthma and arthritis. She provides preventative health care, risk assessment and physical exams; nutrition counseling and weight management; minor surgical procedures including skin lesions and moles; Pap smears; family planning and contraception; and menopausal treatment.

“As a primary care provider, our focus is on preventative medicine,” she said. “We want to help you keep from getting sick. But if you do get sick, we’re there to help you.”

She and her team also provide short-term acute care, such as treatment for minor illnesses and injuries like sore throats, sinus infections, earaches, minor lacerations, and skin excisions and biopsies. Lab services are available on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.

Her office is located at 2000 Billy Tucker Circle off of East Main Street next to Fred’s. West Georgia Primary Care’s phone number is (706) 880-7188. Same-day appointments are available in most cases, and walk-ins are welcome.