By: Jessica Ken
Checkups for teens are super important. It isn’t just about getting medicine when you’re sick or getting a shot before school starts, but it’s also about making sure you are doing everything to feel the best that you can. For me, this past month, I had moved to a new city and just started school when realized that I should find a new doctor nearby. I was lucky to find a super cool doctor that spent the time to get to know me and ask me how I felt about starting graduate school. I felt comfortable right away.
To start, she explained that she would do an annual physical exam so that she could get a clear picture of my health right now. Two weeks later, I went back and she explained my results and answered all my questions. She said that I had lower levels of vitamin D, and prescribed me a multivitamin, and said that I had an impressive level of HDL, which is the “good” cholesterol in my body. After this experience, I realized how important it is to build a good relationship with my doctor and get a checkup to see what I can do to feel healthy for the rest of the year.
If you don’t have a regular doctor, you can text “CLINIC” and your zip code to 61827 for an address to a free or low cost clinic near you. Remember, if you’re 14 years old or older, the doctor is not allowed to tell anyone, including your parents, your test results or what you talked about during the visit.
Here’s what to expect:
Someone will check your pulse, blood pressure, height and weight to make sure everything is on track for your age. They might ask you to give a urine sample to see how your kidneys are working. It is not a drug test.
The doctor will examine your eyes, ears, mouth, neck, heart, lungs, stomach, spine, skin, joints, muscles, and genitals.
The doctor will ask you some more questions about your life regarding family, friends, school, extracurriculars, drug use, and sexual activity. Try to be honest about what you do and how you are feeling so that your doctor can give you helpful recommendations. Remember, what you talk about is between you and your doctor.
If you are sexually active, pregnancy and STDs are always a concern. It isn’t always easy to talk to your parents about sex but, at the very least, you should feel comfortable talking to your doctor about it. They will let you know about your birth control options, how to prevent STDs, and answer any questions you have, no matter how awkward!
I hope you get the idea now that doctors are on your side and want you help you out, so don’t forget to see them for your checkup once a year!
Teenagers: your Yearly Doctor Visit is Important
Teens and STDs: Get the Facts
Society of Adolescent Health and Medicine
Jessica Ken is a 1st year graduate student at Columbia University, Mailman School of Public Health. Her passions include going on outdoor adventures, yoga, and eating ice cream. Her guilty pleasure is staying up late to watch many consecutive episodes of crime shows. Tweet to her @justjken!