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Well Visit Information for Teens at 15 to 18 Years
A well visit
is when you see a healthcare provider to prevent health problems. It is a different type of visit than when you see a healthcare provider because you are sick. Well visits are used to track your growth and development. It is also a time for you to ask questions and to get information on how to stay safe. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them. You should have regular well visits from birth to the end of your life.
Development milestones you may reach at 15 to 18 years:
Every person develops at his or her own pace. You might have already reached the following milestones, or you may reach them later:
- Menstruation by 16 years for girls
- Start driving
- Develop a desire to have sex, start dating, and identify sexual orientation
- Start working or planning for college or military service
Get the right nutrition:
You will have a growth spurt during this age. This growth spurt and other changes during adolescence may cause you to change your eating habits. Your appetite will increase, so you will eat more than usual. You should follow a healthy meal plan that provides enough calories and nutrients for growth and good health.
- Eat regular meals and snacks, even if you are busy. You should eat 3 meals and 2 snacks each day to help meet your calorie needs. You should also eat a variety of healthy foods to get the nutrients you need, and to maintain a healthy weight. Choose healthy foods when you eat out. Choose a chicken sandwich instead of a large burger, or choose a side salad instead of French fries.
- Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. Half of your plate should contain fruits and vegetables. You should eat about 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Eat fresh, canned, or dried fruit instead of fruit juice. Eat more dark green, red, and orange vegetables. Dark green vegetables include broccoli, spinach, romaine lettuce, and collard greens. Examples of orange and red vegetables are carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, and red peppers.
- Eat whole-grain foods. Half of the grains you eat each day should be whole grains. Whole grains include brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, and whole-grain cereals and breads.
- Make sure you get enough calcium each day. Calcium is needed to build strong bones. You need 1,300 milligrams (mg) of calcium each day. Low-fat dairy foods are a good source of calcium. Examples include milk, cheese, cottage cheese, and yogurt. Other foods that contain calcium include tofu, kale, spinach, broccoli, almonds, and calcium-fortified orange juice.
- Eat lean meats, poultry, fish, and other healthy protein foods. Other healthy protein foods include legumes (such as beans), soy foods (such as tofu), and peanut butter. Bake, broil, or grill meat instead of frying it to reduce the amount of fat.
- Drink plenty of water each day. Water is better for you than juice or soda. Ask your healthcare provider how much water you should drink each day.
- Limit foods high in fat and sugar. Foods high in fat and sugar do not have the nutrients you need to be healthy. Foods high in fat and sugar include snack foods (potato chips, candy, and other sweets), juice, fruit drinks, and soda. If you eat these foods too often, you may eat fewer healthy foods during mealtimes. You may also gain too much weight. You may not get enough iron and develop anemia (low levels of iron in the blood). Anemia can affect your growth and ability to learn. Iron is found in red meat, egg yolks, and fortified cereals, and breads.
- Limit your intake of caffeine to 100 mg or less each day. Caffeine is found in soft drinks, energy drinks, tea, coffee, and some over-the-counter medicines. Caffeine can cause you to feel jittery, anxious, or dizzy. It can also cause headaches and trouble sleeping.
- Talk to your healthcare provider about safe weight loss, if needed. Your healthcare provider can help you decide how much you should weigh. Do not follow a fad diet that your friends or famous people are following. Fad diets usually do not have all the nutrients you need to grow and stay healthy.
- Limit your portion sizes. You will be very hungry on some days and want to eat more. For example, you may want to eat more on days when you are more active. You may also eat more if you are going through a growth spurt. There may be days when you eat less than usual.
You should get 1 hour or more of physical activity each day. Examples of physical activities include sports, running, walking, swimming, and riding bikes. The hour of physical activity does not need to be done all at once. It can be done in shorter blocks of time. Limit the time you spend watching television or on the computer to 2 hours each day. This will give you more time for physical activity.
Care for your teeth:
- Clean your teeth 2 times each day. Mouth care prevents infection, plaque, bleeding gums, mouth sores, and cavities. It also freshens breath and improves appetite. Brush, floss, and use mouthwash. Ask your dentist which mouthwash is best for you to use.
- Visit the dentist at least 2 times each year. A dentist can check for problems with your teeth or gums, and provide treatments to protect your teeth.
- Wear a mouth guard during sports. This will protect your teeth from injury. Make sure the mouth guard fits correctly. Ask your healthcare provider for more information on mouth guards.
Protect your hearing:
Do not listen to music too loudly. Loud music may cause permanent hearing loss. Make sure you can still hear what is going on around you while you use headphones or earbuds. Use earplugs at music concerts if you are close to the speaker.
What you need to know about alcohol, tobacco, nicotine, and drugs:
It is best never to start using alcohol, tobacco, nicotine, or drugs. This will prevent health problems from these substances that can continue when you become an adult. You may also have a hard time quitting later. Talk to your parents, healthcare provider, or adult you trust if you have questions about the following:
- Do not use tobacco or nicotine products. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes, cigars, and e-cigarettes can cause lung damage. Nicotine can also affect brain development. This can lead to trouble thinking, learning, or paying attention. Vaping is not safer than smoking regular cigarettes or cigars. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke or vape and need help to quit.
- Do not drink alcohol or use drugs. Alcohol and drugs can keep you from making smart and healthy decisions. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently drink alcohol or use drugs and need help to quit.
- Support friends who do not drink alcohol, smoke, vape, or use drugs. Do not pressure your friends. Respect their decision not to use these substances.
What you need to know about safe sex:
- Get the correct information about sex. It is okay to have questions about your sexuality, physical development, and sexual feelings. Talk to your parents, healthcare provider, or other adults you trust. They can answer your questions and give you correct information. Your friends may not give you correct information.
- Abstinence is the best way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Abstinence means you do not have sex. It is okay to say "no" to someone. You should always respect your date when he or she says "no." Do not let others pressure you into having sex. This includes oral sex.
- Protect yourself against pregnancy and STIs. Use condoms or barriers every time you have sex. This includes oral sex. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about condoms and barriers.
- Get screened regularly for STIs. STIs are often treatable. Without treatment, STIs can lead to long-term health problems, including infertility and chronic pelvic pain. STIs may not cause any symptoms. Routine screening is important, even if you do not notice any problems.
Stay safe in the car:
- Always wear your seatbelt. Make sure everyone in your car wears a seatbelt. A seatbelt can save your life if you are in an accident.
- Limit the number of friends in your car. Too many people in your car may distract you from driving. This could cause an accident.
- Limit how much you drive at night. It is much easier to see things in the road during the day. If you need to drive at night, do not drive long distances.
- Do not play music too loudly. Loud music may prevent you from hearing an emergency vehicle that needs to pass you.
- Do not use your cell phone when you are driving. This could distract you and cause an accident. Pull over if you need to make a call or read or send a text message.
- Never drink or use drugs and drive. You could be injured or injure others.
- Do not get in a car with someone who has used alcohol or drugs. This is not safe. The person could get into an accident and injure you, himself or herself, or others. Call your parents or another trusted adult for a ride instead.
Other ways to stay safe:
- Find safe activities at school and in your community. Join an after school activity or sports team, or volunteer in your community.
- Wear helmets, lifejackets, and protective gear. Always wear a helmet when you ride a bike, skateboard, or roller blade. Wear protective equipment when you play sports. Wear a lifejacket when you are on a boat or doing water sports.
- Learn to deal with conflict without violence. Physical fights can cause serious injury to you or others. It can also get you into trouble with police or school. Never carry a weapon out of your home. Never touch a weapon without your parent's approval and supervision.
Make healthy choices:
- Ask for help when you need it. Talk to your family, teachers, or counselors if you have concerns or feel unsafe. Also tell them if you are being bullied.
- Find healthy ways to deal with stress. Talk to your parents, teachers, or a school counselor if you feel stressed or overwhelmed. Find activities that help you deal with stress, such as reading or exercising.
- Create positive relationships. Respect your friends, peers, and anyone you date. Do not bully anyone.
- Contact a suicide prevention organization if you are considering suicide, or you know someone else who is:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK)
- Suicide Hotline: 1-800-784-2433 (1-800-SUICIDE)
- For a list of international numbers: https://save.org/find-help/international-resources/
- Set goals for yourself. Set goals for your future, school, and other activities. Begin to think about your plans after high school. Talk with your parents, friends, and school counselor about these goals. Be proud of yourself when you reach your goals.
Vaccines and screenings you may get during this well visit:
- Vaccines include influenza (flu) each year. You may also need HPV (human papillomavirus), MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), varicella (chickenpox), or meningococcal vaccines. This depends on the vaccines you got during the last few well visits.
- Screening may be needed to check for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Your next well visit:
Your healthcare provider will talk to you about where you should go for medical care after 17 years. You may continue to see the same healthcare providers until you are 21 years old. You may need vaccines and screenings at your next visit. Your provider will tell you which vaccines and screenings you need and when you should get them.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
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Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.