How to Save Your Kids From College Health Hazards

Schedule medical appointments -- eye exams, skin exams if they are on acne medications, and any doctor visits they may need if they have asthma, diabetes or other chronic health problem. A general last checkup with the family doctor is a good idea as well. Girls should have an appointment with a gynecologist or family doctor to discuss everything from their periods to birth control and to get advice about the HPV vaccine.

Ask your family doctor for a copy of vital health information, including immunization records, test results, doctor consultations from specialists and hospital discharge summaries.

Organize and store all your child's medical information in a binder or folder. Discuss with your child their complete medical history and review their medical records and any medications with them. Send them off with all their health information and health needs in tow.

I also recommend that everyone should carry a wallet card summarizing this information. (You can download a health-at-a-glance form to jot down all this information at www.DrSavard.com and click on "To learn more about partnering with your doctor".)

Teach your child to take charge of his or her own health: to ask questions, have confidence in their own instincts, to continue to collect their medical test results and reports and take them to each doctor visit, and to be knowledgeable about their medical conditions and needs. My sons knew to call 911 when their brother was injured and to ask the ER for a copy of the medical report. When my sister's son was hospitalized while at college, he knew to get a copy of the discharge summary, so vital to his family doctor at home.

Encourage your child to take a health buddy, another set of "eyes and ears" to the emergency room or student health if they get sick. Their health buddy can then call you to keep you in the loop. All to often a sick student's parents are in the dark, not knowing what is going on and the sick student may simply not want to worry their parents.

Be sure to pass this information on to your child. Giving him or her all the information they need and inspiring them to take charge of their own health is a lifelong and potentially lifesaving gift.

As always, I welcome your comments, questions and suggestions.

Dr. Marie Savard is an ABC News medical contributor. Savard's book, How to Save Your Own Life, and her entire system is available on her Web site at www.DrSavard.com.

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